Predators vs. Hurricanes Odds & Picks: Where Does the Betting Value Lie In Game 1? (Monday, May 17)
Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Sebastian Aho.
- Carolina opens up the playoffs on the road as No. 1 seed out of Central Division, facing Nashville on Monday night.
- The Hurricanes are huge favorites to win Game 1 and the series after beating the Predators in six of their eight regular-season games.
- Pete Truszkowski explains below the best way to bet the Hurricanes in Game 1 and for the entire series.
Predators vs. Hurricanes Odds
|Over/Under||5.5 (+114 / -137)|
|Time||Monday, 8 p.m. ET|
In every NHL postseason, there are naturally some matchups that offer more appeal than their counterparts. By the nature of the seeding format, there will always be some series that are mismatches on paper. With the Carolina Hurricanes entering the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the Central Division, it should be of little surprise to see them as heavy favorites against the fourth-seeded Nashville Predators.
Carolina finished the regular season with a 16-point advantage over Nashville. The Hurricanes are the superior team by every metric. You would be hard pressed to find one area of the game where you’d prefer the Predators side over that of the Canes. With that being said, can the Predators find some way to pull off the upset?
How Carolina and Nashville Match Up
It should be no real surprise when evaluating a one-vs-four matchup that there’s a pretty wide separation between these teams. Carolina was one of just three teams in the whole league during this shortened season to reach the 80-point mark. Meanwhile, the Nashville Predators needed to go 20-7-1 in the second half of the season just to sneak into the final playoff spot.
The underlying metrics confirm the suspicion of this matchup featuring an elite team and an average team. The Hurricanes ranked fourth in the league in expected goal rate, shot attempt share and 5-on-5 goal differential. The Predators ranked 15th, 15th and ninth in these three categories respectively.
Defensively, there’s not much separating these teams. Carolina’s expected goals against per hour at 5-on-5 sits at 2.19, while Nashville’s mark is a smidge higher at 2.25. Nashville actually did a better job of limiting high danger chances, as they gave up 0.37 less high danger chances per 60 minutes than the Canes.
Both teams have similar compositions when it comes to personnel on the backend. Dougie Hamilton is a Norris-contender for the Hurricanes, while Roman Josi won the award last season for the Predators. Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce are stalwarts for Carolina, while Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm are solid for Nashville.
While these teams might be similar in their own ends, Carolina packs a much harder punch offensively. Carolina ranks fourth with an expected goals scored per hour of 2.56. Nashville was in the bottom third of the league with a 2.22 mark according to MoneyPuck. Carolina created 12.1 high danger chances per hour, the best mark in the sport. Nashville ranked 14th.
Should this game or series be decided by special teams, you might as well write the Predators’ obituary right now. The Carolina Hurricanes had the league’s second-best powerplay during the regular season, and their penalty kill was equally as impressive, finishing with the third best mark. Nashville had a bottom-three penalty kill, and their powerplay didn’t offer much support either, ranking in the bottom 10.
Hurricanes Have Clear Edge In Elite Talent
When looking at the projected line-ups for these teams, there’s a clear distinction in both philosophy and talent level. Carolina has an elite top line centered by Sebastian Aho, a very good second line manned by Vincent Trocheck and a shutdown third line with Jordan Staal. On the other hand, Nashville has spread their talent level through their top three lines. This creates the illusion of a deep team, but it’s necessary due to lack of elite talent.
In fact, one can argue that Carolina’s third line featuring Staal, Jesper Fast and Warren Foegele is as competent as any of the top three Predators lines. When you consider the clear advantage the Hurricanes have with their top two lines, it will likely be an issue for Nashville.
Teuvo Teravainen missed much of the regular season with an injury, but he has returned in time for the playoffs. In the games that Teravainen has played with Aho and Andrei Svechnikov, the trio has posted an expected goal rate of nearly 60%. Aho is one of the more underrated players in the league as he quietly posted 24 points in the final 19 games of the season.
Trocheck has had a resurgent season centering the second line for the Hurricanes. After establishing himself as a very good player for the Florida Panthers a few seasons ago, Trocheck fell on hard times that led to him being moved at last season’s deadline. Trocheck has rebounded, posting 43 points in 47 games this season while posting an expected goal rate of nearly 56%. Nino Niederreiter and Martin Necas are two talented wingers who can contribute offensively and drive play.
The picture isn’t as rosy for the Predators. Outside of Filip Forsberg, Nashville’s forward group is littered with players who have failed to meet expectations and might be on the downside of their careers. Forsberg was solid with 32 points in 39 games, but there’s not much else here offensively. Matt Duchene had just 13 points on the season while Ryan Johansen contributed 21 points. Viktor Arvidsson had just 25 points himself.
Nashville’s Biggest Strength is Between the Pipes
Coming into this series, most believe that if Nashville was to somehow win it, it’d be because Juuse Saros stole it. However, it’s arguable that Nashville’s biggest strength isn’t even an advantage in this series. These two teams finished first and second in even strength save percentage during the regular season.
Saros was the main reason the Predators were able to sneak into the playoffs. The young Finnish netminder ranked fifth in the league with a goals saved above expectation (GSAx) mark of +13.2. He stopped 92.7% of the shots he faced, which was the fourth-best mark in the league during the regular season.
So while Saros has been spectacular and has the potential to steal games during this series, you can argue that he doesn’t even give Nashville a clear crease advantage. Petr Mrazek played in just 12 games this season due to injury, but in those 12 games he posted a GSAx mark of +7.1. Mrazek stopped 92.3% of the shots he faced on the season.
The difference between Saros and Mrazek is negligible. However, if for some reason the backup goaltenders get involved in this game, Carolina possesses a clear advantage. We’ve seen Craig Anderson and Ilya Sorokin already get thrust into action during the first two days of these playoffs.
Carolina’s backup Alex Nedeljkovic started the season as the team’s third string, but he was a main part of the team’s success this season. He posted a +9.6 GSAx in 23 games and led the league in save percentage. On the other hand, Nashville’s backup, Pekka Rinne, continued on his downward career trajectory posting a -9.7 GSAx this season.
Predators vs. Hurricanes Best Bet
There is a clear difference between these two teams. Carolina was the better team all season long, and their resume stacks up favorably to Nashville in almost every facet. Therefore, it’s no surprise to see the Hurricanes as rather prohibitive favorites to win both Game 1 and the series.
These teams played eight times during the regular season, with Carolina winning the first six of those contests. The last two games occurred late in the regular season with the Hurricanes not having much to play for. Of note, in the first six games of the season series, Nashville scored just nine goals.
I believe this will continue to be an issue for the Predators in this series. Carolina spends a lot of time in the offensive zone against everybody they play, and I don’t expect the Predators to be able to change that. Additionally, I think Carolina’s lineup is better from top to bottom. If special teams become a factor, Carolina will have an advantage there as well.
Nashville ranked in the bottom third of the league when it comes to goals per game and outside of Forsberg, there’s not much there that will frighten you offensively. Rather than lay -182 on the moneyline in Game 1, I’d look towards the Predators team total. You can find Nashville to score under 2.5 goals at -145 on PointsBet.
Additionally, I think the Hurricanes should win this series rather comfortably. In order to avoid laying -250 on them to win the series, I’d look towards the series spread line. Carolina -1.5 games currently sits at -130. I’d be surprised if Carolina needed seven games to discard of the Predators in this series.