The Carolina Hurricanes will face the New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference First Round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The best-of-7 series was decided when the Islanders (38-27-16) defeated the New Jersey Devils 4-1 on Monday to secure third place in the Metropolitan Division by holding off three other teams. The Hurricanes (52-22-7) will have home-ice advantage by finishing second. Each team has one game remaining before the playoffs start Saturday.

The Hurricanes and Islanders have played twice in the playoffs. Carolina won the first round in six games last season and swept New York in the 2019 second round.

This season, each team won two games on the road: Carolina 4-3 in overtime Nov. 4 and 4-1 on March 19. The Islanders won 5-4 in overtime Nov. 30 and 5-4 on Dec. 23

Who will win this series? That's the question before staff writer Tracy Myers and senior director of editorial Shawn P. Roarke in this playoff edition of State Your Case.

Roarke: Full disclosure, I have harbored doubts about the Islanders all season. They have rarely been on my Super 16 ballot and when they have, it's been near the bottom. I've worried about their ability to generate offense and break open close games, two things that are paramount in the regular season. They aren't as important in the postseason when it is a win-by-any-means-necessary mentality. Last season, the Florida Panthers showed us that in their run from last-team-in to second-to-last-team standing before losing to the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final. Along the way, the Panthers upset a historically good Boston Bruins team in the first round, the favored Toronto Maple Leafs in the second round and swept the Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final, winning each game by a goal. Why can't the Islanders do that? Semyon Varlamov has been amazing in goal and New York plays the tight-checking, physical, opportunistic game that Florida employed with much success. Plus, like the Panthers, the Islanders are red-hot and brimming with confidence entering the postseason, having won seven of their past eight games.

Myers: Oh, I'm with you on the any-team-can-win mentality. That's what I love about the playoffs, the potential for a great upset. I just don't think it's going to happen here. I got to see the Hurricanes up close and personal when they defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 on Sunday. Not the greatest example since the Blackhawks have struggled all season and the Hurricanes held some players out to keep them fresh for the postseason. But all the great elements were there: the speed, the tenacity and the penalty kill, which is ranked No. 1 in the NHL (86.3 percent). The Islanders' biggest strength in my opinion is their goaltending, but the Hurricanes just have so many weapons on offense, starting with Sebastian Aho (89 points; 36 goals, 53 assists). And Jake Guentzel's acquisition from the Pittsburgh Penguins is paying off with 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) in 17 games. It'll be a great series, but I'm taking the Hurricanes. 

Roarke: You are right, the Islanders are riding hot goaltending. Varlamov has usurped the starter's job from Ilya Sorokin by going 8-1-1 in 10 starts since March 10 with a save percentage of .923 or better in nine of those 10 games. Let's ask the Hurricanes what a red-hot goalie (say, Sergei Bobrovsky) can do to their confidence. Better yet, probably better to not ask. It wasn't good and it cost them a shot at the Final. Varlamov gives the Islanders a puncher's chance. And the Islanders having been playing playoff-style hockey during the month of April, going 7-0-1 with impressive wins against the Nashville Predators (2-0) and New York Rangers (4-2). In those eight games, they have outscored the competition 25-13 and won three of the four decided by one goal. That is the mark of a veteran team shaped by chasing a postseason berth for the past month and finding the identity it needs to be successful Watch out! 

Myers: Yes, you're right, and if we want to talk about hot goalies, I have to mention what Frederik Andersen is doing right now (shameless plug: I'm writing about him soon). Anyway, the veteran is 9-1-0 with a 1.30 goals-against average, .951 save percentage and three shutouts in the 10 games he's started since March 7, his first game back after missing nearly four months with a blood clotting issue. That's crazy, and it's giving the already strong Hurricanes an even bigger boost entering the postseason. Also hot right now? The Hurricanes overall. They're riding a five-game winning streak entering their regular-season finale against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; BSSO, BSOH). Yep, it's all coming up Carolina, and it will continue to be that way through the first round. Sorry, Islanders.