What first-round stats say about Rangers vs Hurricanes

NHL: New York Rangers at Carolina Hurricanes
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes will open their highly-anticipated Eastern Conference Second Round series on Sunday. Both teams made quick work of their opening series with the Rangers dispatching the Washington Capitals in four games, and the Hurricanes dismissing the New York Islanders in five.

During the regular season, these teams were among the League’s best with the Rangers finishing first overall at 114 points, and the Hurricanes third with 111 points. A pretty even matchup to be certain.

“We know what they are all about,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said via The Athletic. “They’ve got immense talent and coached really well with good goaltending. We know it’s going to be a tough matchup, but it would be anywhere. You get into the final eight, they’re all going to be tough.”

So, who has the edge coming into this series? One way to look at it is to break down individual performances from Round 1, but this is a team sport that requires a review of team stats. Let’s dive in.

Related: Is Rod Brind’Amour buttering up the Rangers

Rangers vs Hurricanes Round 1 Stats

NHL: New York Rangers at Carolina Hurricanes
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to key team stats from Round 1, I chose nine specific categories and found the Blueshirts came out on top in seven of them.

The disparity in goals for between the Rangers and Hurricanes was nominal. However, the fact that Carolina gave up 2.4 goals against per game to the Islanders 22nd ranked offense was a bit surprising. The Blueshirts were also better in 5v5 goals for and against as well.

Special teams is where the Rangers really shined in the postseason as they dominated on the power play and penalty kill, scoring two shorthanded goals to boot. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes struggled down a man to the Islanders, who were the 19th ranked power play during the regular season. In the face-off circle, the Rangers also had the edge.

Stats via NHL.com

To no one’s surprise, Carolina, who ranked third in shots for per game during the season posted better numbers than the Rangers in this department 33.8 to 26.

“They’re fast,” Rangers captain Jacob Trouba said. “They close fast, they move the puck quick, they throw a lot of pucks at the net. It’s just fast hockey. They’ll swarm at times. They can get going and you’ve just got to keep your cool in your own zone at times, get the puck out, live to fight another day. But they come in waves. They’re good in the [defensive] zone, they control the puck in the offensive zone and they get a lot of looks at the net.”

One major area of strength for the Hurricanes that all experts will point as to why they’re the better team are possession stats. Against the Islanders, the Hurricanes posted a whopping 59.3 SAT% (shot attempts), with the Rangers having an underwhelming 48.8% versus Washington.

Wait! Didn’t the Rangers sweep the Capitals? Were they lucky? As always, the devil is in the details.

Remember, the Rangers only trailed against the Capitals for a grand total of 3:21 out of 240 minutes in their four-game sweep. Usually, teams that are down in games start to desperately hurl everything and the kitchen sink at the opposition goalie.

In contrast, the Hurricanes trailed for nearly all of Game 2 versus the Islanders until they scored two goals in nine seconds with a little over two minutes left in the contest to win. Carolina also trailed in Game 4, ultimately losing in overtime.

Looking at SAT% when the score was tied, the Rangers boast a 58.3 edge to Carolina’s 56.6 mark. Going deeper, when the score was close, New York had a solid 52.6 to Carolina’s 57.7. average. What this indicates is that the disparity for possession isn’t a lopsided as many may think. When combined with all the Rangers other advantages, it could be the difference for who wins this series.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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