3 Hurricanes Who Could End The Islanders’ Season in Game 5

The Carolina Hurricanes are on the brink of making it to Round 2 of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Last year they made it to the second round and lost to the New York Rangers in seven games. A win tonight brings them one game closer to a potential rematch in Round 2 of this year’s postseason.

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Sebastian Ago and Brent Burns have been leading the offensive charge for the Hurricanes. That being said, their depth needs to continue to step up and produce in the face of a slew of injuries. There are three forwards who could step up in a big way to put the New York Islanders season and Stanley Cup dreams away. All three have not scored yet this post season but could break that minor slump in Game 5.

Jordan Staal

The captain of the Hurricanes is the backbone of the forward group. He’s a tough defense-first player who has been able to chip in offensively. He’s never had more than 50 points in the regular season, but that’s not his strongest asset. He primarily shuts down the opposing teams top players and wins faceoffs.

Jordan Staal Carolina Hurricanes
Jordan Staal, Carolina Hurricanes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Over the course of his playoff career Staal has been on a 0.49 points per game (P/GP) pace. In the first four games of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs he’s been producing 0.50 P/GP with two assists in four games. Of the 26 points he’s gathered in a Hurricanes jersey in the postseason 10 of those have been goals. He could get number 11 tonight.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi

Jesperi Kotkaniemi ended the regular season with points in five of the last seven games. He’s produced more offensively after a nice rebound season in 2021-22. Eighteen goals and 25 assists for 43 points were all career highs for Kotkaniemi.

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He’s currently pointless versus the Islanders in this series. He’s had four scoring chances though, one being of the high danger variety. The playoffs are a different beast from the regular season, but I wouldn’t count out a player who was scoring before the season ended. We will see if Kotkaniemi can punch the Hurricanes ticket to the second round.

Jesse Puljujarvi

At the March 3 trade deadline the Hurricanes acquired Jesse Puljujarvi in the hopes of adding depth to the club for a deep playoff run. While he hasn’t been incredibly productive since joining the team, he is an analytics darling who plays a solid defensive game. He’s a hard forechecker who has been snake bitten all year in the goal department.

Jesse Puljujarvi Carolina Hurricanes
Jesse Puljujarvi, Carolina Hurricanes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Puljujarvi has dressed for two postseason contests with the Hurricanes this far. In his 15:40 of even strength ice time he has two shots and two scoring chances (one high danger). He has brought some physicality to the ice with five hits and two blocks. With the Hurricanes’ “win by committee” mentality I wouldn’t be surprised if he scores his first goal in a Hurricane sweater tonight.

Related: 2 Hurricanes Who Must Step Up to Replace Andrei Svechnikov

A sleeper pick for Game 5 hero comes from the blue line: Brady Skjei. Skjei doubled his career high regular season goal total with 18 lamp lighters this year. In Round 1 of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs he only has one assist. The strength of the Hurricanes all season has been their blue line. It hasn’t been the same story thus far in the postseason. Jaccob Slavin has scored the only goal from a Hurricane defender in this series. Look for someone to step up tonight, specifically Skjei.

Tonight is a pivotal game in the Hurricane’s season. With injuries to Max Pacioretty, Teuvo Teravainen and Andrei Svechnikov it’s time for another forward to step up their game and become the hero for Game 5.