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NHL Odds & Pick for Predators vs. Hurricanes: Back Carolina To Win in Regulation (Thursday, March 11)

NHL Odds & Pick for Predators vs. Hurricanes: Back Carolina To Win in Regulation (Thursday, March 11) article feature image

Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Vincent Trocheck.

  • The Predators are facing an injury crisis on defense, and the Hurricanes aren't the team you want to face in that situation.
  • Carolina is among the best in the NHL and is heavily favorited in this matchup in Nashville.
  • Matt Russell breaks down where he is looking to find value on the Canes.

Predators vs. Hurricanes Odds

Predators Odds+200
Hurricanes Odds-235
Time7 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday night and via DraftKings.

What’s the value for a player? It’s a question that will stop even the most astute sports handicapper right in their tracks.

As a sports fan, we can use the eye test players to determine whether they’re good. Most times, that observation is based on a level expectation, like when you hear about a movie but don’t get to see it for a few weeks, and by the time you do, you expect to be so good, only for it to be just kind of OK. 

How are we able to quantify the absence of one player? We know the better the player and the more time they’re out, the worse it is. But for one single game? It’s even more difficult. It’s not like the team without the player just doesn’t suit anyone up.

With this uncertainty, how are we supposed to evaluate value when it comes to the Predators and Hurricanes rematch on Thursday?

Nashville Predators

The injuries are piling up for the Predators, particularly on the blue line. Nashville has prioritized their blue line in recent years, building around Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi. Both defensive staples are out for more than just a few games.

With the Predators’ top two defensemen sidelined, everyone has to take a step or two forward. The third guy becomes the top guy, and a pair of players who don’t see regular time find their way into the lineup. 

With Ellis and Josi averaging a combined 60 minutes of Time On Ice (TOI), all the Predators’ defensemen have to replace those minutes.

Dante Fabbro averages 19:14 TOI, so he was the first in line for a few extra minutes on Tuesday in Carolina. Sure enough, he stepped into a bigger role, and a second-period shot of his was tipped by Ryan Johansen for a goal to make it 2-0.

However, shortly thereafter, Fabbro took an elbowing penalty that began a Predators parade to the penalty box that culminated with the Canes tying the game at 2 and eventually winning in overtime. To make matters worse for the rematch, the NHL reviewed the elbowing penalty and levied a two-game suspension on Fabbro. The Predators’ depth will be further tested.

We often see teams step up in the first game when injuries hit a star player or when they cluster at a position. In their first game without Josi, the Predators played well enough to have a 58% Expected Goal Share at even strength.

Now, they have a third of their top-for defensemen out, leaving Matthias Ekholm as their number one. He’s averaged 21:57 TOI this season and played over 28 minutes on Tuesday. After that, though, it gets super thin as the Preds try to find quality play for the 92 other defensive minutes.

Matt Benning averages 15:00 TOI, Ben Harpur averages 15:47 TOI in seven games played this season, Mark Borowiecki averages 14:01 and Alexandre Carrier has played just three games. Meanwhile, Jeremy Davies made his NHL debut on Tuesday. 

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.

xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.

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Carolina Hurricanes

The Carolina Hurricanes aren’t the team you want to be playing when your defensive unit is compromised. The Canes are miles ahead of everyone else in the Central Division with an even 2.00 expected goals for at even-strength. They come at you with speed through all three primary lines and will wear down even the most veteran defense.

On top of that, they’re converting their high number of High-Danger Chances (HDC) at a better than average rate as well, scoring 15.6% of the time when they get a great chance. 

Defensively, the Hurricanes do give up more HDC than they’d like but despite missing their starting goaltender, Petr Mrazek, the replacements have been excellent in coming up with big saves when those chances come about, allowing goals on just over 10% of these even-strength HDC. 

My “Let’s Do That Hockey” model, as heard on “THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast,” rates the Hurricanes higher than division-leader Tampa Bay, at 10% above-average at even-strength. So it’s not a surprise that they’re considerable favorites in this matchup against the Predators, who even at full-strength are slightly below-average. 

Betting Analysis & Pick

I was on the Predators on Tuesday as +190 underdogs because I thought that price was an overreaction to Josi’s being out for the Hurricanes in the small sample of one game. Since the game went to overtime and the even-strength expected goal share was in the favor of the Predators, it’s hard to argue that wasn’t the case. 

One game later, and another top-four defensemen out, it’s hard to back the Predators the second time around. It’s also hard to play the total. If the Nashville defense is compromised, initial instinct would be to take the over, but I don’t want to rely on the Preds’ offense to supply goals toward that end.

At -230, that’s a price too rich for my blood, so I’ll look to Carolina in regulation at -130. Even though they’re one of the best shootout teams of all time, I’m not looking to rely on after-regulation coin flips in making this bet. 

Pick: Hurricanes in regulation (-130 or better)

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