Hurricanes vs. Capitals Playoff Odds, Betting Preview: Carolina Is Dangerous

Hurricanes vs. Capitals Playoff Odds, Betting Preview: Carolina Is Dangerous article feature image

James Guillory, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Tom Wilson, Sebastian Aho

  • The Washington Capitals are -160 favorites over the Carolina Hurricanes in Round 1 of the NHL Playoffs.
  • Are the Hurricanes a good play at these odds? Michael Leboff analyzes what figures to be a high-octane matchup.

Carolina Hurricanes vs. Washington Capitals Series Betting Odds

Hurricanes odds: +140
Capitals odds: -160

The defending Stanley Cup Champions will open the 2019 playoffs against the team nobody wanted to see in the first round, the Carolina Hurricanes.

This is Carolina’s first appearance in the tournament since 2009, but this has been a long time coming. Big things have been expected of the Canes, as the team is dripping with talent and its underlying numbers have been stellar for the better part of five seasons now.

The Capitals don’t boast impressive peripheral numbers, but they didn’t last season, either. Washington’s talent level is such that it can beat its underlying numbers, but the Hurricanes are a bear to match up against.

Both of these teams were dealt an injury blow toward the end of the season.

The Caps will be without Michal Kempny, who was playing top-pair minutes with John Carlson, for the entire playoffs. While Kempny isn’t what you’d call a household name, he’s been crucial for the Capitals all season and played a big role in last season’s triumph. His loss will have a pretty big impact as the Caps were already pretty thin on the blueline.

The Hurricanes lost Calvin de Haan, a solid No. 4 defenseman, to a shoulder injury. His season is also done, but the Hurricanes have some serious depth on defense and are in a better position to deal with this test than the Capitals.

The general sentiment around this series will be similar to what we saw last spring when the Caps won the division and then played the Columbus Blue Jackets in Round 1. I thought Washington was ripe for the taking in that matchup, and it went down 2-0 after two home losses, but in the end were able to recover and run to the Cup.

The Hurricanes led the league in expected goals for per 60 minutes and expected goal differential per 60 this season. The Canes do give up scoring chances, but they usually create enough on their own to make up for that.

Carolina should create plenty of opportunities against the Caps, who rank near the bottom of the circuit in terms of suppressing scoring chances, but it will come down to whether or not the Hurricanes can make them count. Lack of finishing has plagued Carolina for seasons, but the Hurricanes did something about that problem this season by acquiring top-six forward Nino Niederreiter from the Minnesota Wild on Jan. 17.

Since Niederreiter’s arrival the Hurricanes lead the league in Corsi Rating (CF%), rank fifth in Goal Share and have the fourth-best record in terms of points percentage. Niederreiter made an already dynamic top-six into an elite unit and that will spell trouble for the Caps.

The goaltending matchup for this series is certainly peculiar. The Hurricanes, who have been searching for an answer in goal for years, finally seem to have found some stability in the form of a two-man show featuring journeyman Curtis McIlhinney and the enigmatic Petr Mrazek.

Whoever starts for the Canes will be the second best netminder on the ice as Braden Holtby is a reliable option for Washington.

I thought the Hurricanes would get steamed in the early betting, but I was wrong. Given the statistical portfolios, I expect that Carolina will be on the front foot for much of this series.

In fact, I can only see the Capitals winning this contest in one way, grinding things out and winning a tight series in six or seven games. On the other hand, Carolina has the ability to blow the doors off Washington.

Even though the Caps are the favorites and their Cup odds are much shorter than the Canes’, I think this is Carolina’s series to lose. The Capitals will need to shoot the lights out, something they are capable of doing, but that is not something I expect.

I’m betting the Hurricanes and may look to a series prop, like Hurricanes in five at long odds, as well.

All stats at 5v5 and score + venue adjusted. Data courtesy of Evolving Hockey, Corsica, Natural Stat Trick and Sean Tierney.

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