It's that time of year again in the NEFHL.  The 82 game regular season is complete and 16 of the 32 teams have been sent off to spend the next 4 months golfing.  Round 1 of the NEFHL Playoffs kicks off on Sunday and today we will look at the 4/5 matchup in the Eastern conference which features the 4th seeded Pittsburgh Penguins vs the 5th seeded Carolina Hurricanes.


4. Pittsburgh Penguins - 49-27-6 (104 points) vs 5. Carolina Hurricanes - 45-29-8 (98 points)

Season series - Pittsburgh 4-0/Carolina 0-2-2

Hurricanes 0 at Penguins 2
Penguins 4 at Hurricanes 1
Hurricanes 1 at Penguins 2 (OT)
Penguins 3 at Hurricanes 2 (SO)

Total Goals - Penguins 10 Hurricanes 4

Scoring Leaders Head to Head:


Jacob Trouba - 4GP - 0G 2A - 2 Points

Devin Shore - 1G 0A - 1 Point

Marco Scandella - 4GP - 1G 0A - 1 Point


Brett Kulak - 4GP - 0G 3A - 3 Points

John Marino - 4GP - 1G 2A - 3 Points

Lucas Raymond - 4GP - 2G 1A - 3 Points




Hurricanes: Vitek Vanecek - 30-22-7  2.69GAA .901 Save%

Penguins: Thatcher Demko - 32-21-8  2.63GAA .903 Save%

In a battle of playoff rookies, the Penguins carry an edge in goaltending due to having a higher rated #1.  Demko was a massive midseason addition and has been great since arriving in Pittsburgh.  Vanecek set a career high with 30 wins and a .901 save% this season and paired with Adin Hill provided extremely solid goaltending for a Canes team that only ranked 21st in league scoring.  This battle may be close but the edge goes to Pittsburgh.



Hurricanes: Steven Stamkos (76GP 31-37-68)  Logan Couture (73GP 17-46-63)  Lawson Crouse (76GP 35-23-58)  John Tavares(80GP 26-30-56)  Alex Killorn (81GP 23-33-56)  Tyler Bertuzzi (75GP 18-33-51)  ***Jakub Vrana (49GP 14-15-29)

Pittsburgh: Sidney Crosby (73GP 31-50-81)  Alex Ovechkin (75GP 51-28-79)  Lucas Raymond (82GP 29-38-67)  Brandon Hagel (75GP 29-24-53)  Alex Newhook (72GP 16-36-52)  Jeff Carter (80GP 21-27-48)   ***Evgeni Malkin (19GP 6-12-18)

Any team that's headlined by Crosby and Ovechkin has a clear advantage in any series.  Carolina may have more overall top 6 talent, but Pittsburgh has the best 2 players in the series.  2 players who are returning from injury riddled seasons who could have a major impact are Evgeni Malkin for the Pens and Jakub Vrana from the Canes.  Both should make an impact before all is said and done.  This category is also a slight edge to the Penguins, but it's very close



Hurricanes: Jacob Trouba (77GP 5-37-42)  Jaccob Slavin (72GP 7-32-39)  Matt Roy (76GP 6-26-32)  Adam Pelech (57GP 3-22-25)

Pittsburgh: Evan Bouchard (82GP 10-40-50)  Mikhail Sergachev (73GP 8-33-41)  Brett Kulak (81GP 4-27-31)  John Marino (77GP 11-13-24)

The Penguins hold a clear advantage offensively on the backend with Bouchard and Sergachev, however the Canes offer an extremely solid unit defensively that can proven they can contribute offensively as well.  This category probably leans to the Canes overall in a close matchup


This should be a long series unless Demko gets hot and the Canes offense disappears.  The return of Vrana should help boost the Canes scoring and give them a chance while the Pens top end trio of Crosby/Ovechkin/Malkin will allow them to outscore any defensive lapses.