Panthers vs. Hurricanes Odds, Preview, Prediction: Expect Goals Galore, Offense to Shine in NHL Clash (Jan. 8)

Panthers vs. Hurricanes Odds, Preview, Prediction: Expect Goals Galore, Offense to Shine in NHL Clash (Jan. 8) article feature image
Credit:

Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Carolina Hurricanes alternate captain Sebastian Aho.

  • Carolina and Florida meet for a battle between two of the NHL's best on Saturday.
  • The Panthers last won this meeting in November, but it is the Hurricanes who are -135 favorites today.
  • Nicholas Martin breaks down the game and gives his top pick, below.

Panthers vs. Hurricanes Odds

Panthers Odds +115
Hurricanes Odds -135
Over/Under 6.5
Time 7 p.m. ET
TV ESPN+
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Two of the NHL’s best meet Saturday in Raleigh, N.C., when Carolina hosts Florida and looks to fare better than in the season’s first meeting between these clubs. That resumed in an ugly 5-2 loss in Sunrise, Fla., in November.

So, what can we expect in what should be an excellent affair? Let’s take a look.

Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina has produced some utterly dominant play and enter this game with the top win percentage, as well as a league best +43 goal differential. The Hurricanes have done so with a notably complete, well-balanced roster.

Oddsmakers at DraftKings has Carolina listed almost twice as unlikely to win the Stanley Cup as the Panthers at +1400 odds. That said, this is a good spot to note I feel that number currently holds some value, as this team is simply producing the dominant results that should be expected from an excellent roster.

And the Hurricanes have been far from simply lucky, so this could be a good way to use welcome bonuses for those just joining online sportsbooks in now legal gambling states, namely New York.

The Hurricanes have a spectacular top nine up front, led by tremendous center  Sebastien Aho. Also, over the course of the last month, we have seen the team produce the league’s best xGF/60 mark at 3.28 as well.

A number of the Hurricanes’ better forwards are skating closer to their true primes, and guys like Martin Necas and Seth Jarvis continue to take steps forward insulating the bigger names.

The back end features some tremendous talents, such as the consistently underrated Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce and to an extent even Ethan Bear. Controversial Tony DeAngelo, who seems to have kept his attitude in check so far, has greatly helped navigate the loss of Dougie Hamilton.

Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta have been a very solid tandem in goal for the Hurricanes. With Andersen having played Friday against the Calgary Flames we should see Antti Raanta draw the start.

Raanta has holds a +1.9 goals saved above expected rating with a .908 save % so far throughout 10 games played this season.

Florida Panthers

Florida’s deep offense has continued to produce excellent results since the restart, and its extremely high-event hockey has produced a number of very exciting contests. That includes Thursday’s 6-5 shootout loss to Dallas that went down as yet another thriller.

The Panthers have created chances at a notably high rate all season, with a smaller sample of their five most recent games since the break coming with a 3.92 xGF/60 and absurd 5.8 goals for per game average.

The amount of high danger chances against could be a concern, with the team averaging 15.2 since the restart. Yet, with that said, Florida is certainly getting the better of the play in a very exciting brand of hockey.

The roster holds a vast wealth of offensive talent behind two of the absolute best in Jonathan Huberdeau and Alex Barkov, and even top defenders Aaron Ekblad and Mackenzie Weegar’s best skillsets revolve around their ability to help drive play up the ice and create on offense.

We should certainly see this roster able to finish inside the league’s top two with regard to offensive production should they stay healthy. However, cleaning up the defensive play to an extent heading into the postseason might be important when looking toward a lethal Atlantic Division. That could involve a date with the Lightning again in the first two rounds.

Sergei Bobrovsky has tailed off to an extent after an otherworldly start, but still holds a +13.4 goals saved above expected rating with a .918 save % in a notable bounce-back season. He should draw the start.

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Panthers vs. Hurricanes Pick

It always seems daunting to back an NHL contest to go over a total of 6.5 goals, but I think this game warrants it.

Florida continues to play incredibly up-tempo hockey and I don’t think Carolina’s excellent defensive play will prevent the club from hanging up yet another solid offensive output.

The Panthers have posted the league’s second-highest offensive output and their 3.51 xGF/60 rate since Dec. 14 is second only to Carolina’s mark of 3.57 during that time.

As outlined, I think we should see Carolina trend upward with regard to the league rankings in goals per game with the talents on hand, and a spot against a Panthers team allowing a lot of high danger chances shouldn’t hurt.

The Panthers have conceded the league’s highest xGA/60 rate over their last seven games at 3.16, and it’s fair to say that their defensive depth is a slight concern. Also, both of their top two defenders in Ekblad and Weegar’s biggest upsides still come in their ability to create offense.

At -115 odds, I still see value backing this game to clear a high total of 6.5 and I would play that number down to -130 odds.

Pick: Total Over 6.5 Goals (-115) | Play to -130

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