With the Carolina Hurricanes playoff push ending at the hands of the same Boston Bruins both in 2019 and again in 2020, the potential is there to at least attempt to measure the team’s progress. An important disclaimer is the unique circumstances in 2020 with the four-month layoff, the bubble and everything else unique to 2020. While the two different years would never be directly comparable anyway, I do think comparing the two years has something to say about the progress of the Hurricanes from year to year.
What was the same?
A couple key factors were pretty similar between the two years. In both series, the Bruins’ best players played a huge role in deciding the series. In 2019, the Bruins top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak combined for 6 goals and 14 scoring points. The 2020 series was similar with Boston’s big guns scoring 5 goals and collecting 14 points in 5 games. Also on the offensive side of the ledger, in 2019 the Bruins outscored the Hurricanes on the power play by a massive 7 to 1 mark in only 4 games. Though the margin was not as big, the Bruins 5 goals for versus 1 against on the power play was again a significant advantage for the Bruins. Both series also featured a catastrophic collapse to lose a game that seemed to be in hand. In 2019, the Hurricanes seemed to be on their way to pulling off a game 1 upset to get out to a series lead when they collapsed in the third period and lost. In 2020, game 4 was similarly crushing with the Hurricanes blowing a 2-0 lead entering the third period for a 4-3 loss. So in terms of what fueled the Bruins’ series wins, one could say that it was more of the same in 2020. The Hurricanes top players were outplayed by the Bruins, and special teams also played a huge role.
What was different?
Lasting only a game longer in 2020 and with a very similar set of drivers, one might guess that the series in total were similar, but there a few key differences. First, the Hurricanes did at least win a game this year. More significantly, whereas last year only two games were even close, in 2020 all five games were decided by a single goal not counting empty-netter. The goal differential (again not counting empty-netters) fell from 10 (15 to 5) in 2019 to a mere 3 (14 to 11) in 2020. The 4-1 series record does not accurately measure how close the Hurricanes really were. A couple bounces or plays here or there could easily have tipped the series in the Canes direction.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Did you view the 2020 match up against the Bruins as progress despite losing the series 4-1? Or did you think it was just more of the same year to year?
2) Discussing what I noted or also adding your own, what key improvements, if any, did you see going from the 2019 series to 2020?
3) On the negative side of the ledger, what problems did you see carry forward from 2019 to 2020?