Both of these Metro Division teams got out of the first round with Game 7 wins and did it quite differently to set up the Carolina Hurricanes vs. the New York Rangers to go to the Eastern Conference Finals against the winner of the Battle of Florida. These teams battled it out for first place in the Metro Division till the last week of the season, with the Hurricanes finishing first and Rangers finishing second. Now they’ll determine the real winner over the course of a seven game series.
The Hurricanes won the Metropolitan Division with a 54-20-8 record, finishing the regular season on a six game win streak. The Canes had a great regular season and were leaders of the NHL on both ends of the ice. Their offense was solid, scoring an average of 3.38 goals per game, ninth most in the NHL and they scored on 22% of their power play chances, 13th most in the NHL. Defensively they were even better. Carolina gave up the fewest goals in hockey this regular season, an average of only 2.44 goals per game. They allowed the fewest shots on goal in the NHL as well, an average of 28.2 per game and not only are they allowing the least amount of shots to be generated against them, they’re very good at preventing those shots from going in the back of the net. Frederik Andersen had a fantastic season in goal for the Canes this season with a second best in the NHL 2.17 GAA, third best in the NHL .922 save percentage and four shutouts. He’s still out with a lower body injury that made him miss the first round of the playoffs and the Hurricanes will have to go with Antti Raanta at least to start the second round. Rantta has been a pretty reliable backup this year with a 2.45 GAA, .912 save percentage and 2 shutouts but in his backup role, he was mostly playing against teams that missed the playoffs. The Hurricanes have the best penalty kill percentage in the NHL, killing off 88% of their penalties.
The first round series the Canes played against the Bruins was a tale of two cities with home ice playing such a huge factor in Carolina winning it in seven games. The Hurricanes dominated at home in the electric atmosphere of Game 1 (5-1), Game 2 (5-2) and Game 5 (5-1) while getting worked in Boston, losing all the road games (4-2, 5-2, 5-2). In Game 7 at home, the Canes scored early and held a 3-1 lead to the last 28 seconds of the game with a late push by the Bruins coming short as the Hurricanes ended the series with a 3-2 win. In the first round, Carolina averaged 3.43 goals per game with an 11.7% shooting percentage. Their power play wasn’t spectacular against Boston, scoring on 13.9% of those chances. The Hurricanes allowed an average of 2.86 goals per game with a huge split between home ice and on the road but Anti Raanta played pretty solid in goal with a 2.37 GAA and .927 save percentage in his six games (he missed Game 1 with injury). They killed off 79.3% of the penalties that they took.
The Rangers finished the regular season in second place in the Metro with a 52-24-6 record. Igor Shesterkin was easily the best goalie in the NHL this season and guaranteed Vezina winner with a 2.07 GAA, .935 save percentage and 6 shutouts. With his play in goal and fantastic defense, the Rags allowed the second fewest goals in the NHL this season, an average of only 2.49 goals per game. They’ve allowed an eleventh fewest in the NHL average of 30.8 shots per game. Their penalty kill is the seventh best in the NHL at 82.3%. Offensively, New York hasn’t done anything all that special, averaging 3.05 goals per game (16th in the NHL) but they have played much better on the offensive end of the ice in the second half of the season. The Rangers have only generated a fifth fewest in the NHL average of 29.2 shots per game but they’re pretty efficient with those shots, with an eighth highest in the NHL shooting percentage of 10.5%. The Rags power play has been very good, scoring on 25.2% of those chances, fourth most in the NHL.
Going into the first round of the playoffs, I picked the Rangers to beat the Penguins in the first round and then doubled down on it after Game 1 after their triple overtime loss that saw the Pens lose their second string goalie for the rest of the playoffs. The Rangers answered back from losing 4-3 in triple OT with a 5-2 win at home in MSG in Game 2. The series flipped in Pittsburgh though, with Igor Shesterkin getting run out of the arena in both games 3 and 4 with the Rangers losing 7-3 and 7-2. When the series shifted back to New York with the Rags facing elimination down 3-1, they became the first team to ever have three consecutive come from behind wins in elimination games within a series, coming back from deficits in Games 5, 6 and 7 to win the series with a 4-3 overtime win in Game 7. I crushed this series from a betting perspective, winning my series bets while still winning my Penguins TT overs that I used as partial hedges along with crushing overs all series.
Offensively, the Rangers were pretty good in the first round but that’s not really all that surprising considering that for a majority of that, they were playing against the Penguins third string goaltender. They averaged 4 goals per game with a 10.4% shooting percentage. The power play was very good for the Rangers, scoring on 31.6% of those opportunities, many of which were in key situations. The Rangers allowed the most shots and most high danger opportunities of the first round of the playoffs. That showed as they allowed an average of 4.14 goals per game, the most of any playoff team that advanced to the second round and they were only better than the Nashville Predators in that category, even allowing more total goals in the first round than the Penguins that they beat. Pretty much guaranteed Vezina winner and Hart Trophy finalist Igor Shesterkin wasn’t great in goal that series with a 3.66 GAA and .910 save percentage. The Rags PK killed off 73.9% of the penalties that they took and they scored shorthanded twice.
The Hurricanes went 3-1 in the regular season against the Rangers this year. They won 6-3 at home on January 21st, got shut out 2-0 at home on March 20th, answered back with a 4-2 win in MSG on April 12th and then pretty much locked up home ice for this series with a 4-3 win on the road in the last week of the season on April 26th.
I can see the Hurricanes making a run to the Cup Finals, although I think the winner of the Stanley Cup comes out of the West and will add a two unit future on the Canes to win the cup, with decent value at +700. The Rangers were lucky to even get out of the first round against the Penguins, and although they probably win a game or two this series I think the Canes roll through them, especially at home in Carolina. The price is a little bit heavy on the series at -205, but will take the Canes to win it in six games or less for 2.5 units at even money.
I think the Canes start off the series with a solid win at home and will take them for 1.5 units in Game 1 tonight. I’d slightly lean the overs in this series, but not enough to bet on it in Game 1 so I’ll stay off the total.
2u Hurricanes: Stanley Cup Champions (+700)
2.5u Hurricanes in six games or less (+100)
Game 1 Bets
1.5u Hurricanes ML (-176)
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