Rangers vs. Hurricanes Game 1 Odds, Pick, Prediction: NHL Playoffs Betting Preview (Wednesday, May 18)

Rangers vs. Hurricanes Game 1 Odds, Pick, Prediction: NHL Playoffs Betting Preview (Wednesday, May 18) article feature image

Scott Taetsch/Getty Images. Pictured: Martin Necas celebrates with Vincent Trocheck.

  • The Hurricanes are home favorites on Wednesday against the Rangers.
  • After winning all four home games in the first round, is there value on Carolina to defend home ice in Game 1?
  • Carol Schram breaks down the matchup and shares her best bet below.

Rangers vs. Hurricanes Game 1 Odds

Rangers Odds+156
Hurricanes Odds-175
Over/Under5.5 (-120 / +100)
Time7 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

After each squeaking out seven-game wins to open the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the top two teams in the Metropolitan Division are through to the second round.

Wednesday night, the Carolina Hurricanes will host the New York Rangers as the series opens at PNC Arena. It's just the second playoff meeting in NHL history between the two sides — and the first in front of fans. The Hurricanes swept the Rangers 3-0 in their best-of-five qualifying-round series in the 2020 playoff bubble.

Here's the latest on both teams and your best bet for the game.

Can Shesterkin Carry the Rangers Again?

The 2022 New York Rangers look very different from the group that was swept by the Hurricanes in the bubble two years ago.

The biggest change, of course, is in net. Then-coach David Quinn tapped Henrik Lundqvist to start the first two games — for what proved to be the last two games of his NHL career. Igor Shesterkin, then a rookie, made his first career NHL playoff start in Game 3, stopping 27-of-30 shots in the 4-1 series-clinching loss.

In the regular season, Shesterkin has played just three games against the Hurricanes so far in his career. He has a 1-2-0 record, with an .899 save percentage and 3.07 Goals-Against Average. That's well below the regular-season numbers that earned him a Hart Trophy nomination this season (2.07 GAA and .935 save percentage).

Of course, Shesterkin didn't play up to that level in the Rangers' first-round series against Pittsburgh, either. But after a dip in his performance following that exhausting 79-save triple-overtime effort in Game 1 against the Penguins, he started to find his game as the series went on. In Game 7, he made 39 saves. And through Round 1, he has the fourth-best Goals Saved Above Expected rating, at 3.8.

The Rangers will need Shesterkin to be good in this series because their possession numbers do not compare favorably to the Hurricanes'. At 5-on-5, the Rangers had the worst Expected Goals rating in the first round, at 37.95%, and the worst High-Danger Corsi rate, 33.72%. Their Penalty Kill was also poor, with a success rate of just 73.9%, and they were the worst team in the first round on the dot, winning just 43.1% of their face-offs.

But the Rangers did finish with the third-best rate of offense, averaging exactly four goals per game, and their Power Play was third-best at 31.6%. And perhaps most importantly, they showed a strong will to win — seizing the moment of Sidney Crosby's Game 5 injury to jump on the reeling Penguins and start an unprecedented push to the second round built off three consecutive come-from-behind wins.

The Rangers enter Round 2 with forward Barclay Goodrow on the sidelines with a lower-body injury. Physical defenseman Ryan Lindgren, who has been banged up, skipped Tuesday's practice for a maintenance day but is expected to suit up for Game 1.

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Can the Hurricanes Continue Dominating at Home?

The Hurricanes were a dominant 29-8-4 on home ice during the regular season and earned all four of their wins against the Boston Bruins at PNC Arena in Round 1.

Carolina is known as an analytics darling that plays with good structure, but the same is true of Boston. The Hurricanes actually came out on the losing side of the Expected Goals battle in Round 1 and were also inferior to the Bruins on special teams.

In Round 1, the Hurricanes' biggest edge in came in PDO, the 'luck' statistic that combines a team's shooting percentage with its save percentage at 5-on-5. Carolina finished Round 1 with a playoff-leading PDO of 1.049, where 1.00 is considered 'normal.'

And while Antti Raanta played well in Carolina's net when he returned to action after missing Game 3 due to injury, he's at just 0.7 Goals Saved Above Expected so far in the playoffs. There's no update on Freddy Andersen, who has been out with a lower-body injury since mid-April. But at age 33, Raanta may get a special spark for the opportunity to start against the Rangers, his team for two seasons earlier in his career.

Carolina forward Jordan Martinook missed the last four games of Round 1 with a lower-body injury but did practice on Tuesday in Raleigh.

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Rangers vs. Hurricanes Pick

The Rangers may not have completely deserved to eliminate the Penguins. However, they did have a winning record against the Penguins in the regular season (3-1-0) and reversed their fortunes in the series when their backs were against the wall.

On paper, the matchup against the Hurricanes looks similar — a strong structural team that should dominate the possession game, but one that is missing its top goalie.

But this time, Carolina will have home-ice advantage. The Hurricanes held the upper hand against the Rangers during the regular season, with a 3-1 edge in the season series.

The Rangers have also had one less day for rest, recovery, and game-planning, so they're in a tough spot for Game 1.

The moneyline reflects that. At -165, the oddsmakers are giving Carolina a 62.26% chance of winning — and that looks like a solid assessment.

At +155, the puck line is tempting, but since all seven of Carolina's first-round games concluded within 60 minutes, a safer choice is to back the favored home side to secure the win without needing overtime.

Pick: Hurricanes in Regulation (-105); play down to -120

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