Everyone knows the story of the New York Rangers. They are usually a star driven, top heavy club relying on big names to produce. The Rangers depth this year is far stronger and, against Carolina, this depth will need to shine. Kaapo Kakko, Willy Cuylle, and Alexander Wennberg in particular played some big minutes for the Rangers in round one, but their role will become even bigger in round two.

Carolina has been every member of the hockey media’s “sexy” pick ever since they added Jake Guentzel at the trade deadline but what most of them fail to realize is that their style of play is perfect for the Rangers. Carolina definitely controls the shot share most nights, but their offensive strategy is to throw a bunch of shots at the net from any and every angle and try to cash in on rebounds.

Igor Shesterkin, when he’s on and he is right now, swallows up shots and doesn’t leave much in the way of rebounds. The Rangers also have done a great job this year of limiting second chances in front of the net.

The biggest factor for Peter Laviolette and the Rangers depth will be his third line’s success against Sebastian Aho and Jake Guentzel, assuming this is the matchup. Carolina has a very good team but they are extremely top heavy offensively, which the Islanders were unable to exploit due to their lack of scoring and suspect goaltending. Shutting down this line neuters a critical aspect of the Carolina offense.

The Rangers don’t have an issue in net, their team defense and finishing are far better than anything the Canes saw from the Isles in round one, and the Rangers depth may arguably have more upside. Against Washington, the Rangers depth routinely gave the Capitals fits and drove them crazy as they were consistently in one the forecheck and limited chances against. If the Rangers want an “upset” (they are the betting underdogs) in round two, they’ll need that same consistent effort, and perhaps a little added scoring punch.

Carolina will very likely outshoot the Rangers every game this series but it’s about quality of shots, not quantity. Shesterkin will stop any shot with clear sight and will limit Carolina’s second chance opportunity. The Rangers defense, if executing properly, will take care of the rest. Shutting down the Aho-Guentzel connection is a part of this process.

Carolina’s an analytical and media favorite because of their style of play. Yet their weakness has been finishing, especially in the postseason. It was a problem against the Islanders, and the Rangers are a far better squad with better coaching. Carolina has been built as the NHL’s version of the “Moneyball” Oakland A’s. The one problem with the Oakland A’s is that they never won the World Series.


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