Predators vs. Hurricanes NHL Odds & Pick: Nashville Provides Good Value as Big Underdog (Saturday, April 17)

Predators vs. Hurricanes NHL Odds & Pick: Nashville Provides Good Value as Big Underdog (Saturday, April 17) article feature image

Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Vincent Trocheck of the Hurricanes and Calle Jarnkrok of the Predators.

  • Nashville was 13-3 over its last 16 games before losing to Carolina on Thursday.
  • The Hurricanes are the class of the Central Division, while the Predators are just holding on for the final playoff spot.
  • Matt Russell explains why likes Nashville to win on the road on Saturday.

Predators vs. Hurricanes Odds

Predators Odds+160
Hurricanes Odds-190
Time | TVSaturday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Odds as of Friday night and via BetMGM.

Hockey branding is the realest. Whether it’s a player that becomes the face of the franchise or a style of play that allows a team to overcome not having that star player, for some reason it’s hard for fans, media and bettors to see a franchise in a different light. 

The Predators and Hurricanes are two of those teams in the NHL. The Predators spent two decades trying to find ways to get around not having a top player in the league. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes are busy trying to prove to the hockey world that they have a couple of those players. What’s come of both their efforts this season is one of the better matchups on a Saturday night late in the season, even if it’s not going to get treated like that in the NHL universe. 

Nashville Predators

Coming into Raleigh on Thursday, the Predators were 13-3 in their last 16 games and had leapt into the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division. In my “Let’s Do That Hockey” Model, as heard on THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast, the Predators reversed their even-strength rating from negative to positive, relative to the average of the rest of the teams in their division.

While they have played well in that span, winning more than 80% of your games for any part of the schedule is an outlier. You would have to play historically good hockey to have your metrics match up with that type of record.

The Preds were able to win those games due to unusually high conversion rates for their offence and unusually low rates of conversion for their opponents. The question surrounding the Predators, from a mathematical perspective, is are they due for a regression or a reversion to the mean?

That said, we were willing to back them in Thursday’s meeting, only to have the Predators lose in a game that was closer than how it played out on the scoreboard. The Canes led 1-0 after one period, despite an even-strength Expected Goals advantage being just 0.42 to 0.40. Carolina added two more goals at even-strength despite creating just two High-Danger Chances to Nashville’s three. The regression bill had come due for some of the unsustainable rates that went the Predators’ way. 

My model’s current rating of Nashville has them still just slightly above average at even-strength for the season, but slowly rising close to 5% above average for this extended stretch. They have finally found their level that was expected of them before the season, as a team expected to make the playoffs. From a narrative standpoint, the increase in winning is only going to provide belief, and their place in the standings is the reward as they create momentum with the season nearing its end.

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 and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.

Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes came into Thursday’s meeting with the Predators, having dropped both their games with the lowly Detroit Red Wings to put them at just 3-3 on their current eight-game homestand. Not a disaster by any means, but confidence might be a little shaken, even though the Hurricanes were still able to create 15 more High-Danger Chances than their opponents in the six games. 

The 4-1 win over Nashville was a different brand of hockey, as in the previous five Canes’ games the teams would combine for more than 20 High-Danger Chances at even-strength. With a near-even split of 11 High-Danger Chances, Thursday’s game was played at the Predators’ pace. 

The Hurricanes are almost boring in their consistency, as they’ve shown they can win any style game you want to play. They’re also one of the few teams this season to use three goaltenders in at least eight games, and that’s only because of the time missed by number-one goalie Petr Mrazek. No matter who has been in net, Carolina’s rating in my model has stayed steady at around 10% above average at even strength. 

Betting Analysis & Pick

For my money, and in my model, the Hurricanes are the class of the Central Division (while Tampa Bay is without Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos), but that’s no secret in the market as they’ve been highly regarded by oddsmakers and bettors due to high quality metrics.

Therefore it comes down to price. While the Hurricanes are reliable, it’s the Predators' current form that brings a variable, like a college basketball team that gets hot during March Madness. 

My model gives Carolina a 57% chance to win this game, which translates to a true moneyline of NSH +132/CAR -132. The projected price for the Hurricanes on Saturday isn’t much different than the closing number on Thursday, and I think that’s a mistake, due to them winning the game.

With a likely underdog price of better than +150, it’s worth betting on the Predators to score a split in Raleigh. 

Pick: Predators (+160 or better)

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