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Carolina Hurricanes vs. Florida Panthers Series Preview: Forwards, Power Play

The Canes and Cats gear up for a good ol’ Southeast Showdown.

Carolina Hurricanes v Florida Panthers Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

The Carolina Hurricanes are back in the Eastern Conference Final as one of the four best teams remaining from the season.

Their opponent? A fast and physical Florida Panthers team that has rode the high of the under”cat” role, knocking off the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Both teams have rode balanced lines and scoring depth throughout the playoffs and this series will probably be no different.

Let’s take a look at how the forwards and power plays compare:


By the Numbers:

Offensive Stats

Stat Carolina Hurricanes Florida Panthers
Stat Carolina Hurricanes Florida Panthers
Goals For 262 (15th) 288 (6th)
GF/60 3.15 (15th) 3.48 (6th)
xGF/60 3.56 (5th) 3.76 (1st)
Unblocked Shot Attempts/GP 51.52 (1st) 50.34 (2nd)
Shots on Goal/GP 34.8 (3rd) 36.8 (1st)
Faceoff % 52.9% (5th) 48.9% (22nd)
Shooting % 9.2% (26th) 9.53% (21st)

Forward Leaders

Category Carolina Hurricanes Florida Panthers
Category Carolina Hurricanes Florida Panthers
Goals Sebastian Aho (36) Carter Verhaeghe (42)
Assists Martin Necas (43) Matthew Tkachuk (69)
Points Martin Necas (71) Matthew Tkachuk (109)
Hits Jordan Staal (155) Sam Bennett (150)
Average TOI Sebastian Aho (19:30) Aleksander Barkov (21:13)
Plus/Minus Teuvo Teravainen/Stefan Noesen (+11) Matthew Tkachuk (+29)

Playoff Leaders

  • Goals - Sebastian Aho, Jesper Fast (5) / Sam Reinhart (6)
  • Assists - Jordan Martinook (7) / Matthew Tkachuk (11)
  • Points - Sebastian Aho, Jordan Martinook (10) / Matthew Tkachuk (16)

Anticipated Lines

Carolina Hurricanes

Stefan Noesen - Sebastian Aho - Seth Jarvis
Jordan Martinook - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Jesper Fast
Teuvo Teravainen - Jordan Staal - Martin Necas
Derek Stepan - Paul Stastny - Jack Drury

Extras: Mackenize MacEachern, Jesse Puljujarvi

Florida Panthers

Carter Verhaeghe - Aleksander Barkov - Anthony Duclair
Nick Cousins - Sam Bennett - Matthew Tkachuk
Eetu Luostarinen - Anton Lundell - Sam Reinhart
Ryan Lomberg - Eric Staal - Zac Dalpe

Extras: Colin White

The Breakdown

Florida Panthers 2022-23 5v5 Isolated Heatmap
Florida Panther 2022-23 5v5 Finishing

The Panthers have star power, they have depth, they have physicality and they have speed. They are the most well rounded opponent the Hurricanes have faced yet, a team that combines the best attributes of their previous two opponents.

Florida had two 40 goal scorers in the regular season and both play on different lines, making them a matchup nightmare for a teams with a shutdown centerman like Jordan Staal.

The Cats also have their own shutdown, Selke center in Aleksander Barkov who centers the top line with Carter Verhaeghe, the Panthers’ regular season leading goal scorer, and Anthony Duclair, a speedy winger able to get separation with ease.

Their second line is also the best agitator line in hockey. The combination of Matthew Tkachuk, a 100+ point Hart candidate, Sam Bennett and Nick Cousins are just as likely to punch you and cross check you from behind as they are to score on you and they do both with ease.

Following both of those up is a third line that has been able to have their way with every matchup they’ve faced through the postseason so far. Anton Lundell is a young, two-way centerman, Eetu Luostarinen has come into his own since leaving Carolina, and Sam Reinhart is playing on the third line. That’s all you need to know about their depth.

Rounding it out is a fourth line with former Canes captain Eric Staal with former Canes prospect Zac Dalpe (now 33), and Ryan Lomberg, who will take a run at somebody this series guaranteed.

Carolina will have to stay disciplined, both in their system and after whistles to match up with the Cats’ high-octane offense. Florida is a team that also forechecks hard, so the Hurricanes will have to prove they’re the better team in that regard if they want to prevail.

All in all, the two sides match up very well in terms of defense versus offense, it’ll just be a matter of who’s specialty can break the mold first.

Power Play

By the Numbers:

Power Play Stats

Stat Carolina Hurricanes Florida Panthers
Stat Carolina Hurricanes Florida Panthers
PP Goals For 50 (19th) 63 (8th)
Power Play Opportunities 253 (14th) 276 (5th)
PP% 19.8% (20th) 22.8% (10th)
PP GF/GP 0.61 (19th) 0.77 (8th)
Shorthanded Goals Against 6 (8th) 9 (21st)

Playoff Percentages

Carolina Hurricanes - 18.9%

Florida Panthers - 27.6%

Anticipated Power Play Units

Carolina Hurricanes

PP1: Noesen-Aho-Jarvis-Necas-Burns

PP2: Fast-Stastny-Kotkaniemi-Drury-Gostisbehere

Florida Panthers

PP1: Bennett-Reinhart-Tkachuk-Montour-Barkov

PP2: Duclair-Lundell-Verhaeghe-Ekblad-Forsling

Power Play Leaders

Carolina Hurricanes

Goals: Regular Season - Martin Necas (9), Playoffs - Stefan Noesen (2)

Assists: Regular Season - Brent Burns (19), Playoffs - Brent Burns (3)

Points: Regular Season - Martin Necas (26), Playoffs - Stefan Noesen (4)

Florida Panthers

Goals: Regular Season - Sam Reinhart (16), Playoffs - Sam Reinhart, Brandon Montour (2)

Assists: Regular Season - Brandon Montour (30), Playoffs - Matthew Tkachuk (4)

Points: Regular Season - Matthew Tkachuk (36), Playoffs - Matthew Tkachuk (5)

The Breakdown

Florida Panthers 2022-23 Power Play Generation

Carolina’s power play has been clicking when they’ve needed it to, winning them games against the New York Islanders and the series against the New Jersey Devils, but they haven’t scored at a great pace.

To be fair, they faced the number 9 PK and number 4 PKs and overall, they’re getting chances, but have just had some pretty bad luck with over five posts hit on the man advantage this postseason.

They just need to stick with it and they should be able to make some magic happen, especially against a weaker kill like Florida’s which has just a 65.8% success rate this postseason.

On the other hand, Florida’s power play has been clicking as of late and they’ve been scoring against the regular season’s number 1 PK and the number 12 PK.

Ever since going back to a 4F-1D top unit, led by Brandon Montour who is scoring at an absolutely insane rate, the Panthers have found success. They have the scoring talent to be lethal, so Carolina will have to be sharp.

But the best method for beating Florida’s power play is to stay out of the box. The Cats will do all they can to goad the Hurricanes into dumb and retaliatory penalties, and it’s up to the Canes to keep their heads up, battle through it and not get involved in the antics.

Prepare for a long and grueling series. On paper, this is perhaps one of the most even matchups of the playoffs so far and could go the distance. Granted, crazy things can happen, but this series has all the necessary components to make it one for the ages.

And long live the Southeast Division.