Here’s a take: the series between the Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators should already be over. So you can probably imagine who I’m rolling with as my best bet for this small Thursday slate.
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Carolina Hurricanes (-140) at Nashville Predators
This series has been wildly entertaining. The last three games have gone to overtime. And the crowds in both Carolina and Nashville have been amazing to watch. However, Carolina has been the much better team, even if the results haven’t always gone their way.
The Hurricanes hold an expected goals for percentage of 57.9% in the series. They’ve also outshot the Preds in each of the first five games. These metrics prove just how dominant Carolina’s been.
But like I wrote earlier, the results haven’t always been there. Take Game 4, for example, where the Hurricanes put up 92 total shots (including ones that were blocked) compared to Nashville’s 58 shot attempts. As someone who bet on Carolina in that game, it was incredibly frustrating to watch the Predators escape with a win in a game they had no business winning.
The sole reason Nashville has forced a sixth game is the spectacular play of goaltender Juuse Saros. He’s stopped 221 of the 237 shots he’s faced in the series, good for a .932 save percentage. There’s certainly a chance Saros dazzles and steals another one for the Preds. But I’m willing to take a chance on him running out of gas in a high-pressure elimination game.
This series has been a microcosm of the weirdness of playoff hockey. The Hurricanes have been the better team in every game and could’ve swept Nashville had a couple of bounces gone their way. In Game 6, I expect the cream to rise to the top.
The Nashville crowd will be raucous, Saros will probably be really good, but it won’t be enough this time. Play the Hurricanes up to -150, which is an implied probability of 60%.
Thoughts on Maple Leafs-Canadiens
Toronto has overcome John Tavares’ injury to completely turn the tables on Montreal. The market has the Leafs as -210 favorites, which implies they have a 67.7% chance of ending the series tonight on home ice. I find that to be a tad high. But it’s really hard to back Montreal.
The Habs will try to slow the game down and rely on Carey Price to steal a win. However, stealing a win requires converting on chances, something they haven’t been able to do in this series. Montreal has scored four total goals in the series and is coming off a shutout loss last time out. They’re also 0-for-10 on their high-danger scoring chances. Opportunities have been there, but the Canadiens can’t convert.
If you think Montreal is due for a little puck luck, then I don’t mind backing them for a little bit at +200. But it’s not a play I’m willing to stomach tonight.
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