3 Keys to the NY Islanders Beating the Carolina Hurricanes in Round 1

Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders
Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Special Teams

On opposite sides statistically in terms of special teams, the Islanders have to find a way to keep the game at even strength for as long as possible.

The Hurricanes are the NHL's top team on special teams, finishing the season second in power play percentage (26.9%) and first on the penalty kill (86.4%). In comparison, the Islanders finished the regular season with a 20.4% success rate on the power play, 19th in the league, and dead last on the penalty kill at 71.5%.

The penalty kill has been the Hurricanes' biggest strength, finishing in the top 5 in each of the last five seasons. There's a noticeable difference between the two teams while short-handed, as the Islanders play a more passive style, while the 'Canes like to pressure the puck carrier, forcing the opposition into turnovers.

The Islanders' power play started the season on fire, once ranked in the top 10. In this series they'll need to return the form they were in earlier in the season, just to put some pressure on Carolina. The way the power play has been of late, it won't be much of a disadvantage for the 'Canes.

The Islanders' penalty kill has been abysmal all season, needing to stop the bleeding immediately, or else they'll be looking at an early exit. The best recipe for short-handed success is to stay at even strength, but when they find themselves a man down, they'll need to cut off the cross-ice passing lanes, keeping the puck to one side of the ice as often as possible. There's also the adage that your goalie needs to be your best penalty killer, which couldn't be more true for this Islanders team.