NHL Best Bets Tonight | Expert Picks for Hurricanes vs Rangers and Avalanche vs Stars

NHL Best Bets Tonight | Expert Picks for Hurricanes vs Rangers and Avalanche vs Stars article feature image

Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs resume with two excellent games on Saturday's slate: Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Rangers and Colorado Avalanche vs. Dallas Stars.

Let's dive into my NHL best bets tonight and look at some expert picks for Hurricanes vs. Rangers and Avalanche vs. Stars.

NHL Best Bets Tonight

Rangers vs. Hurricanes

Saturday, May 11
7 p.m. ET
Rangers ML +130

Are the Hurricanes a little unlucky to be in a 3-0 hole in this series? Yes, that's fairly clear given that all three games swung on a couple of plays.

With that said, tough, it's easy to see that the Rangers are quite comfortable playing in the type of game scripts this series has featured thus far.

The Hurricanes have tried as hard as they possibly can, but their effort hasn't led to the type of scoring chances it takes to beat Igor Shesterkin right now.

It's been a lot of working smarter, not harder, for the Rangers, as they're making more out of less in terms of time of possession.

As expected, the Hurricanes lead in terms of offensive zone time, shot attempts and shots on goal by considerable margins. The true defensive breakdowns for each side have still been quite comparable though.

Therefore, it's not all that surprising to see the Rangers stake a 3-0 lead because everybody knew Shesterkin would outperform Frederik Andersen and Pyotr Kochetkov heading into the series.

Quantity = Hurricanes. Quality = Rangers.
NYR with a 3-0 series lead. pic.twitter.com/kjJaFHUC61

— Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyNHL) May 10, 2024

The Rangers actually lead on expected goals in the series by 1.2 goals, per Sportlogiq's model. That stat meets the eye test.

Mid-to-low level chances essentially have no shot at beating Shesterkin right now. Even shots from high-danger locations aren't going to beat Shesterkin if he's set and square. The Rangers feel comfortable in their defensive shell and are in a good rhythm in terms of preventing most of the shots Shesterkin can't handle.

All of the reasons that the Rangers own a three-game lead in the series should remain sustainable moving forward, even if their approach isn't typical for an elite team.

At this point, it's clear that while it's not the most impressive recipe to the eye, what the Rangers are doing is effective against the Hurricanes, in particular.

The Canes deserve to be a slight favorite here, but -156 is a little extreme. There's value in backing the Rangers to end the series at +130, and I would bet anything better than +120.

Best Bet: Rangers Moneyline +130 (Play to +120)

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Stars vs. Avalanche

Saturday, May 11
10 p.m. ET
Over 6.5

This series has the makings to be a true classic. Both rosters feature very few flaws and are true Cup contenders.

The first two games haven't disappointed, as we saw 15 goals combined and two impressive Avalanche comebacks, with Game 2's late push coming up a hair short.

And while we haven't seen this game script yet, don't be surprised to see the Stars pose a comeback of their own at some point in the series. They also hold lofty offensive upside, and I continue to believe that people are forgetting about that because of how the Stars played against a stellar Golden Knights defense.

The Avalanche's 3.61 xGF/60 this postseason ranks third of all playoff teams, even after playing a Jets side that's supposedly good at defending. The Stars aren't far behind, as their 3.43 xGF/60 ranks fourth — and that's after playing a Knights side that clearly defended at a high level.

The Avs really didn't defend all that well in the regular season, and it seems reasonable to expect the Stars' offensive depth to continue posing problems in this series.

Colorado's 3.07 goals against average in the regular season ranked 16th in the league and fourth-worst among teams that made the playoffs. The Avalanche also allowed 3.35 xGA/60 over the final 41 regular-season games — the 13th-highest mark in the league.

They were a team that was expected to elevate their play in the postseason and have clearly done that. But it's clear that offense is always going to be the Avs' greatest asset.

The goaltenders in this series also offer some question marks, and neither Jake Oettinger nor Alexandar Georgiev were sharp in Game 1. Both bounced back with strong performances in Game 2, but that game still finished with a final score of 5-3.

You won't see many juiced totals of 6.5 in the playoffs, but I think this series calls for those numbers. With the over 6.5 still priced at -105 at bet365, there's value on the over.

Best Bet: Over 6.5 (-105 · Play to -110)

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