Evaluating the 3 potential NY Islanders playoff opponents

Which matchup is more favorable, and which opponent do fans want to see the most?
Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders
Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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3. Boston Bruins

The most unlikely scenario yet is still a possibility if all the stars aligned for a 2020-21 second-round rematch against the Boston Bruins. This matchup would occur if the Bruins finish with the best record in the Eastern Conference and the Islanders finish in the second wild-card spot. The Islanders have little interest in facing the Hurricanes based on playoff history, but the Bruins are their least favorable in terms of regular season outcomes.

The Isles have never played well against the Bruins. The 2020-21 playoffs are not indicative of how these teams have match-upped in recent seasons. In 2023-24, the Isles are 1-1-1 against the Bruins including a blowout victory on home ice and a lopsided loss at TD Garden. Last season, the Islanders were noncompetitive, going 0-3-1 against the Bruins. In 2021-22, the Isles were 0-2-1 against the President Trophy favorites.

Each of these matchups exposes a different weakness of the Islanders' roster. The Hurricanes bring explosiveness in terms of speed, something the Isles only possess in Barzal and Pierre Engvall. The Rangers have firepower in their top two lines including on the powerplay, something we witnessed at MetLife Stadium and at UBS Arena on Tuesday. The Bruins have an enhanced defensive structure, which is capable of shutting down the Isles' middle-tier offensive production. 

However, we have also seen the Islanders overcome their shortcomings by playing as a team, not as a group of individuals making a paycheck. Regardless of opponent, the NHL playoffs are wide open for any team to succeed and win the Stanley Cup. That is why we love hockey.