This is a big game, to put it mildly. For Boston, a win on Thursday night means a chance to go to the Stanley Cup Finals. For Carolina, it is quite simple: A win extends this series while a loss sends them golfing for the summer. Boston is the favorite in this game by -1.5.
A Tale Of Two Power Plays
Boston’s strong power play and Carolina’s lack of a power play have been evident throughout the entire series. Tuesday, those trends reared their heads again. Boston went 1-of-5 on the power play, but Carolina did not score a goal in five chances. For Carolina, one of their biggest opportunities came on a 5-on-3 advantage early. They could have set the tone early and energized the home crowd. However, it was not to be.
If Carolina wants to have any shot of getting back into this series whatsoever, they need to perform better on the power play. It has been abysmal to this point, and they need to convert if they want to have any chance at winning the hockey game.
One of the things that Carolina needs to focus on, in particular, is discipline. Hurricanes captain Justin Williams had three penalties for six minutes. Especially as a captain, you want to see better play out of him. Captains are usually calm, cool, and collected. Williams was anything but that on Tuesday night. Carolina needs him to be better than that if they want to win.
Winning The Face-offs
One of the things Boston excels that is winning the face-offs. It helps when you have a player that makes a living off doing so in Patrice Bergeron. He was a big reason why the team won the majority of their face-offs on Tuesday.
The Bruins won 57% of face-offs while the Hurricanes 43% of theirs. Winning the face-off is more critical than people realize. If Carolina can win even 45% of their face-offs, that could make the difference between winning and losing. Carolina needs to win them, especially in the Bruins’ zone, as they are very effective at setting up plays to get shots to the net.
Strong defensive games
Both teams need to play strong defensive games. Both teams are capable of scoring even in the toughest of situations. If you give either side an opportunity to score, they will capitalize on it. Particularly for Carolina, they have several strong shooters that can score goals when given space. The Bruins need to make sure that they continue to play strong defensively if they want to win this game.
Carolina needs to make sure that they contain the likes of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak. So far, that has not happened, and that may be a part of the reason why their losing. They need to play them physically, and they need to finish their checks. The same could be said for the entire game plan. Carolina needs to play physically and give Boston a taste of its own medicine. If they can do that, they will be in good shape to force a Game 5.
Pick Boston in this one. I would definitely take the -1.5 spread. Boston is on a roll right now, and they show no signs of slowing down. Although Carolina may be the trendy pick, go with the safe bet. Boston should put themselves in a good position to win on Thursday.