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NHL Betting Odds, Picks and Predictions: Carolina Hurricanes vs. Nashville Predators (Monday, Jan. 18)

NHL Betting Odds, Picks and Predictions: Carolina Hurricanes vs. Nashville Predators (Monday, Jan. 18) article feature image

John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images.

Hurricanes vs. Predators Odds

Hurricanes Odds -110 [BET NOW]
Predators Odds -105 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 5.5 (-110/-110) [BET NOW]
Time 8 p.m. ET
TV NHL Center Ice
Odds as of Monday morning and via BetMGM. Get an INSTANT $500 deposit match at BetMGM today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

Monday’s tilt in Nashville features two teams with something to prove after a fairly disappointing 2019-20 season. The Nashville Predators were eliminated in the qualifying round of the NHL Postseason in 2020, while the Carolina Hurricanes were ousted in the first round by the Boston Bruins.

The Predators went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2017 and then won back-to-back Central Division titles in 2018 and 2019. The Carolina Hurricanes went into last season coming off a 2019 run to the Eastern Conference Finals.

I expect both of these teams to be very competitive in the Central Division this year, but are as they as close as these odds suggest?

Carolina Hurricanes

Almost every season, the Carolina Hurricanes are at the top of the league when it comes to advanced metrics. They’ve finished 6th, 1st and 7th, respectively, in expected goals rate over the last three seasons. Every night they spend the majority of the game in the offensive zone.

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.

Most NHL fans would not consider the Hurricanes an elite team, though some are starting to take notice. For years, the main issue with the Hurricanes was the lack of high-end talent and poor goaltending. Over the past season or so, those issues are starting to dissipate.

Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Andrei Svechnikov are all developing into elite players in the NHL. Last season, all three of these players finished with over 60 points in the 68 games the Hurricanes played. While in the past the Hurricanes may have been talent-deficient and not been able to take advantage of all of their offensive zone opportunities, Aho, Teravainen and Svechnikov change that.

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In between the pipes, the duo of Petr Mrazek and James Reimer has given the Hurricanes their most consistent goaltending since the early days of Cam Ward’s career. Mrazek and Reimer both finished with positive Goals Saved Above Expectation (GSAx) in 2019-20. This is a welcome change after nearly a decade where saves were not as frequent as the Hurricanes would have liked.

The Hurricanes also have elite talent on the blueline as Dougie Hamilton and Jaccob Slavin have developed into one of the NHL’s best pairings. Both defensemen are great in their own zone, adept at transitioning the puck up ice and can put up points. Brett Pesce, Jake Gardiner and Brady Skjei round out an extremely solid unit that can play at both ends of the ice.

As former weaknesses become strengths for the Hurricanes, they continue to make a case to be considered amongst the NHL elite teams.

Nashville Predators

As I mentioned earlier, the Nashville Predators are not far removed from a stretch of years where they were widely considered amongst the NHL’s elite teams. They won their division in 2018 and 2019. They were the Western Conference Champions in 2017.

Last year was a struggle for the Predators for two main reasons; their goaltending and the production of their high-end players.

Pekka Rinne has been a fixture between the pipes for the Nashville Predators for well over a decade. He was widely considered one of the better goalies in the league. During the 2019-20 season, Rinne posted an .895 save percentage and a -21.37 GSAx. Juuse Saros began taking over the crease for Nashville as last season progressed and it looks like he’ll be the guy this season as well.

Saros was one of the better goalies in the NHL once the calendar flipped to 2020 and it looks like he’s carried that form over into this season. Saros stopped 71 of 74 shots from the Blue Jackets over the Predators first two games.

Nashville will need Saros to be that good every night if they continue to play the way they played in their first two games. Despite winning both games against Columbus, the Predators had just 40.85% of the expected goals and under 40% of the high-danger scoring chances (per Natural Stat Trick).

Hurricanes vs. Predators Best Bet

While I think both of these teams should have good rebound years, I think the Hurricanes are a tier above the Predators. Carolina has the offensive talent to take advantage of its possession numbers and also has one of the better defensive units in the league. The tandem of Mrazek and Reimer has provided them with decent enough goaltending.

Nashville doesn’t drive play the way the Hurricanes do. If not from some spectacular goaltending from Saros in the first two games of the season, there’s no way the Predators are 2-0.

When you consider the Predators are undefeated and the Hurricanes are coming off a loss as a -235 favorite on Saturday, I think this line is a bit of an overreaction. I think Carolina is the better team and I would bet them up to -120.

Bet: Carolina Hurricanes -120 or better

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