Hurricanes vs. Bruins Game 1 Betting Odds, Preview: Carolina Goes for Seven in a Row

Hurricanes vs. Bruins Game 1 Betting Odds, Preview: Carolina Goes for Seven in a Row article feature image

James Guillory, USA Today Sports.

  • The Boston Bruins are -145 favorites over the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
  • The odds suggest the Bruins win this game about 57% of the time, is that number too low?

Boston Bruins vs. Carolina Hurricanes Game 1 Betting Odds

  • Hurricanes odds: +125
  • Bruins odds: -145
  • Over/Under: 5.5
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET

>> All odds as of 12 a.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NHL odds and track your bets

The Boston Bruins were expected to be among the best teams in the NHL again in 2018-19. The B’s were 11-1 to win the Stanley Cup on Opening Night and would have been shorter if they weren’t in the same division as the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Oddsmakers didn’t have the same lofty expectations for the Carolina Hurricanes, who were 80-1 before the season started, but the Canes have long been a trendy preseason dark horse pick among analytically-slanted hockey fans, pundits and bettors.

After a slow start to the season, the Hurricanes got their game together in the second half and played at a very similar level to the Bruins since Jan. 1.

Carolina is currently on a six-game winning streak after sweeping the Islanders in Round 2. The Bruins needed six games to dispatch the Blue Jackets, but have not played since Monday so rest isn’t a huge deal for Game 1.

In terms of personnel, we could see a matchup of the best line in the NHL vs. one of the league’s best defenses.

Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand have terrorized defenses for years but the Hurricanes are one of a few teams in the league that have the horses to hang with the B’s top trio.

Jaccob Slavin is finally getting his due as one of the league’s most complete defenseman and his supporting cast of Dougie Hamilton, Calvin de Haan, Justin Faulk and Brett Pesce makes Carolina’s blueline elite.

The Battle at 5-on-5

These are two of the best teams in the NHL at 5-on-5.

The Hurricanes led the NHL in expected goals, also knowns as xG, (55.5%) and were second in Corsi Rating (55.2%) over the regular season. Boston’s metrics weren’t as strong, ranking seventh in xG% and sixth in Corsi, but don’t let that fool you. The Bruins are the class of the league in terms of defensive structure.

The B’s topped the circuit in Goals Against per 60 and were second in Shot Attempts Allowed per 60, xGA/60 and High-Danger Scoring Chances Allowed per 60.

This series should be a war when all things are even, but the Bruins do have two clear advantages: Special Teams and Goaltending.

The Blue Paint

The knock on the Hurricanes for the past few seasons has been their inability to get good goaltending. Who would have known that the answer was equal doses of the enigmatic Petr Mrazek and the journeyman Curtis McIlhinney.

Mrazek backstopped the Hurricanes to a seven-game victory over the Capitals in Round 1. The 27-year-old was largely solid, with moments of magic, Mrazek injured himself in the middle of Game 2 of Carolina’s four-game sweep of the Islanders. He had allowed just one goal up to that point but McIlhinney took over where Mrazek left off.

McIlhinney and Mrazek combined to post a .977 save percentage at 5-on-5 against the Islanders. That number is outlandish and you should expect to see a sizable dip in production from these two unheralded netminders against the Bruins.

No matter who plays in goal for the Canes, he will be the second best goaltender in the series. Tuukka Rask has been terrific for the Bruins and is making a strong case for the Conn Smythe Award as MVP of the postseason.

Rask has posted a .944 5-on-5 save percentage this postseason and has saved the Bruins approximately five goals when you compare their xGA (24.2) to their actual goals against (19) at 5-on-5.

Goaltending is incredibly tough to project and it’s not out of the realm of possibilities for McIlhinney/Mrazek to outplay Rask, but counting on that to happen is not a wise move.

Betting Analysis

As of writing, Carolina has  yet to name a starting goaltender but I don’t think there’s much of a difference between Mrazek and McIlhinney. It also looks like Carolina will get Micheal Ferland back, which should help its abysmal power play.

According to the Action Network’s consensus odds, the Bruins are -145 favorites for Game 1 with the Hurricanes coming back at +125. At those odds, the market is implying that Boston has a 57.1% chance of winning Game 1 (without adjusting for vig).

I’d say the current number is a tiny bit too high on Boston, but the Hurricanes have already shortened a little bit, so I’d suggest waiting or shopping around to get Carolina at +130 or better.

The Bruins are the more likely team to win, but this game is closer than these odds suggest as the Hurricanes are one of a few teams in the NHL that will be able to hang with Boston at 5-on-5.