Nashville Predators vs. Carolina Hurricanes Game 2 Odds, Picks & Preview: Are the Canes Worth a Bet as Favorites? (Wednesday, May 19)
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images. Pictured: Andrei Svechnikov
Predators vs. Hurricanes Game 2 Odds
|Time||Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Wednesday and via DraftKings|
The Hurricanes will look to build upon a dominant 5-2 victory over Nashville in the series opener, a game played in front of the largest attendance in the NHL so far this season with a notably raucous crowd of 12,000 inside of PNC arena.
The Hurricanes have been outright dominant so far this season, managing to claim the Central Division title after a very tough race between them, the Panthers, and the Lightning. In doing so Carolina earned a considerably easier first-round matchup as an important reward.
In Game 1 the Canes took advantage of their softer matchup, firmly controlling play and skating to an expected goals score of 3.72 to 1.42 (all situations) and really taking a hold of the game in the third period.
Carolina did a great job of limiting Nashville to mainly low-quality scoring chances against rookie goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic, who stopped 22 of 24 shots faced in his first career playoff game. Nedeljkovic looked a little nervous early, but appeared more comfortable as the game wore on and was only beaten twice, with both coming as acceptable goals against.
Offensively, the Canes did a solid job of creating high-quality scoring chances for themselves. Juuse Saros is an excellent goaltender, so Carolina's success will be dependent on creating Grade-A opportunities. The Hurricanes generated a number of one-timers and shots coming immediately after a pass through the middle of the ice, forcing Saros to move consistently and not allow him to be set for shots. The Canes also battled hard for deflections and screens in front, on what was a very high total of attempted shots from the Canes blue line.
Carolina has been quietly strong for three consecutive seasons under coach Rob Brind'Amour including a trip to the Conference Finals in 2018-19, but this is clearly its stronger roster, so its no wonder the Canes are now listed as joint-second favorites to win the Stanley Cup.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
Nashville finished the season on a tear, running up a 20-7-1 record down the stretch en route to claiming the final playoff spot in the Central. But the underlying numbers suggest that Nashville would likely be hard-pressed to repeat such results, hiding average play behind a ridiculous run of form from Saros and single-goal victories, including a number of wins coming after regulation.
The Predators were slightly above-average at 5-on-5 this season, and were significantly below average with regards to special teams, finishing with the 29th-ranked penalty kill and 23rd-ranked power play.
There is some upside in Nashville since it is finally playing with a nearly healthy lineup, but a lot of its success came with young star Eeli Tolvanen in the lineup and playing well. Tolvanen was a healthy scratch in Game 1 and has not found his form since returning from injury.
Nashville's third-pairing of Ben Harpur and Erik Gudbranson was a clear weakness in Game 1 and certainly could be a big issue going forward considering the depth of Carolina's forward group. It is hard to insulate a weak pair against such a deep team offensively. Dante Fabbro definitely should draw in for one of them after what was a puzzling lineup decision that didn't work out, and will likely offer an upgrade.
Hurricanes vs. Predators Pick
It was clear that the Predators did bring a spirited effort in Game 1, and in doing so managed to keep the game knotted after two periods. As the game ran along however, Carolina's top-to-bottom depth starting to show through and the Canes began controlling the play and generated more and more chances. To me it just seems like Carolina is primed to get through this round comfortably and prepare for what will be a much tougher test in Round 2.
The Hurricanes dominated at 5-on-5, and even though they were able to handle most of Nashville’s power play opportunities with ease, I would expect more success from their second-rated PP against the Preds’ 29th-ranked penalty kill.
Overall, we saw a very sharp effort in Game 1 from a Hurricanes team that now sits as the second-favorite for the Stanley Cup. They allowed very little to the Predators offensively and were able to create a number of high-quality chances at the other end.
There aren’t many reasons to believe that Nashville will turn this into a long series and I think it is likely that this contest wraps up in five games or less. Carolina sit at nearly even money to win in regulation tomorrow, and I see value with backing them to build on a strong Game 1 performance. I also think there's some value backing the Canes to cover a series handicap of -2.5 (win in 4 or 5), which is currently listed at +110 around the market.