NHL Odds, Expert Pick, Prediction: Panthers vs. Hurricanes

NHL Odds, Expert Pick, Prediction: Panthers vs. Hurricanes article feature image

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: Spencer Knight

  • The Hurricanes are short home favorites on Friday night when they face the Panthers.
  • While the Panthers are skating on the second leg of a back-to-back, regression and the better goaltender are in their favor.
  • Grant White breaks down the matchup and shares his betting pick below.

Panthers vs. Hurricanes Odds

Panthers Odds+145
Hurricanes Odds-175
Over/Under6.5 (+100/-120)
Time7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The Florida Panthers knocked off their division foes, the Montreal Canadiens, on Thursday night in a convincing 7-2 victory. Still, that only brought the Panthers back to .500 as they struggle to keep pace with the frontrunners in the Atlantic Division. They face an even stiffer test against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night.

The Canes come into this Eastern Conference showdown on a nine-game winning streak, with points in 15 straight. However, a couple of underlying metrics support that the Panthers could be more competitive than expected on the second night of the back-to-back.

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Will Knight Step Up for the Panthers?

At first glance, it appears the Panthers shot themselves in the foot with their goaltending usage. Sergei Bobrovsky has been the primary goalie this year, leading the team in starts and seeing more frequent usage than Spencer Knight; however, Knight has been the superior tendy and will keep the Panthers competitive on Friday night.

The 21-year-old has outplayed Bobrovsky this season, matching his win total in fewer games while posting a better Goals-Against Average and save percentage. Moreover, Knight has 1.6 Goals Saved Above Average in 15 games, compared to Bobrovsky's -6.3 mark in 22 appearances. It may be an unpopular opinion, but Knight will carry the Panthers further than Bobrovsky.

The young netminder will have his work cut out for him playing behind the Panthers' proud defense. In addition to playing on consecutive nights, the Panthers have struggled to contain their opponents recently. Teams have exceeded 10 High-Danger and 25 Scoring Chances in five of the Panthers' last six games, with averages of 10.7 and 25.8. They will need to tidy up that defensive zone play if they hope to skate with the Hurricanes.

Florida's saving grace has been its excessive offensive production. The Panthers have attempted 12 or more High-Danger Opportunities in three of their last six, hitting 17 chances in the other two contests.

But before Thursday night's seven-goal outburst, the Panthers had seen a decrease in their output. In the five games leading up to last night, the 1996 Stanley Cup finalists had scored on just 6.3% of their shots at five-on-five. That means it could be wise to expect increased scoring from the Panthers as output catches up with production.

Hurricanes Due for Regression

The Hurricanes' play has been admirable, but their recent performances put them in unsustainable territory. They have seen a surge in their production metrics, but those have increased well above normal ranges. Consequently, they are natural regression candidates as their metrics fall back toward median benchmarks.

The Hurricanes are coming off a dominant effort against the lowly Chicago Blackhawks. In that matchup, the Canes put up a season-best 38 High-Danger Chances at five-on-five and 20 Quality Chances, the second-most this year.

That was the third straight game in which Carolina attempted at least 30 Scoring and 14 High-Danger Opportunities, with a rolling average of 32.7 and 16.3, respectively. Although impressive, the Metropolitan Division leaders have much more modest season-long averages of 26.0 and 11.3. Inevitably, those metrics will come crashing back down.

PDO is another indicator the Hurricanes could soon be entering a correction phase. They have gradually increased their shooting and save percentages throughout their 15-game point streak, but they've seen a dramatic rise over the last five games. Across that stretch, the Canes are skating with a bloated 1.066 rating, which has brought their PDO above average and put them at risk of regression.

Panthers vs. Hurricanes Pick

Carolina has the advantage of playing at home against a tired Panthers squad. Nevertheless, the Hurricanes are on the edge of collapse, while Florida is due for increased output.

There are several ways to approach this contest. The safe play is taking the Panthers on the puckline, expecting Knight to help them keep things close. Alternatively, the moneyline should shift in the home side's favor, creating an edge in backing Florida to win outright.

But our preferred approach is taking the 60-minute tie, with the expectation that both teams play to their strength. Getting points on consecutive nights could be a big enough win for the Panthers.

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