Rangers-Hurricanes sequence odds, preview, prediction

If you told hockey bettors at the end of April that the Hurricanes would be -190 favorites over the Rangers in a playoff series, those punters would have probably told you that you’re getting a great price on the Blueshirts. The Rangers finished the season just six points behind the first-place Hurricanes and put some serious pressure on Carolina down the stretch but ran out of gas. Despite the finishing behind the Canes, the Rangers’ run down the stretch turned some heads, and the Blueshirts were catching some sleeper hype in the Eastern Conference.

Two weeks later, the odds for this series make a lot more sense.

That’s because, while both the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers needed seven games to take care of their respective Round 1 opponents, the two series couldn’t have looked less alike. While the Hurricanes and Bruins slugged it out in a back-and-forth contest that featured a high level of play from both sides, the best-of-7 between the Rangers and Penguins went off the rails in Game 1 and never got back on script.

But that’s the beauty of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There are a million ways that a series can go, and while Carolina’s victory looked “more traditional” and some would say, repeatable, New York’s win over the depleted Penguins counts just as much.

Rangers vs. Hurricanes series odds

Odds provided by BetMGM

Series moneyline: Rangers +160 vs. Hurricanes -200

Series spread: Rangers +1.5 (-130) vs. Hurricanes -1.5 (+105)

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Rangers vs. Hurricanes series preview

And it does seem like the market took notice of how the Rangers played against the Penguins. While the Blueshirts deserve a ton of credit for being resilient, opportunistic and coming up with the big goal when they needed it, they also spent 16 of the nearly 25 periods in the series playing against Pittsburgh’s No. 3 goaltender, Louis Domingue.

And Domingue wasn’t the only bit-part player that the Pens needed to call upon in the series. Top-pair defenseman Brian Dumoulin was hurt in Game 1, top-six winger Rickard Rakell only played about four periods and Sidney Crosby was injured midway through Game 5 with the Penguins up 2-0 in the game and 3-1 in the series. Crosby, Rakell, and No. 1 goaltender Tristan Jarry would return for Game 7, but the damage had already been done.

Despite all of the injury chaos, the Rangers still had a lot of controlling play at 5-on-5, particularly on defense. By the end of the series, the Penguins had a +2 goal differential, a +10 expected goal differential, and an absurd +60 differential in terms of high-danger chances. Pittsburgh created 116 high-danger opportunities in what was roughly eight games of hockey when you add in the overtimes. The next closest team in the first round was Edmonton with 94.

Carolina Hurricanes
Carolina Hurricanes
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Needless to say, that kind of leaky defensive play can’t continue if the Rangers want to hang with Carolina, Florida, or Tampa Bay over the next few weeks.

And the truth is the Rangers don’t need to be a defensive power to have a chance in any series. Igor Shesterkin was the best goaltender in the NHL by miles during the regular season and despite some blips in Round 1, he found his form for Game 7.

Once again, goaltending will be the Rangers’ biggest advantage in this series, but this time they won’t have the luxury of going up against a third-string keeper. Instead, they’ll take on Carolina’s No. 2 goaltender Antti Raanta since starting goalie Frederik Andersen is still injured.

And while Andersen was superb in the regular season, it’s an interesting argument on whether the Canes should insert him right back into the fray since he’s been out for a month; Raanta was terrific against the Bruins in Round 1. Shesterkin is still the clear A-side in this goaltending matchup, but the gap is closer compared to what Igor stared down in the opening round.

New York Rangers Goaltender Igor Shesterkin
New York Rangers Goaltender Igor Shesterkin
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Another advantage that the Rangers had over Pittsburgh that should, at least on paper, be muted against Carolina is on the power play. New York posted a 31.6% success rate on the PP against Pittsburgh and got timely goals on the man advantage throughout the series. That will be a tougher task against Carolina, which led the NHL going away with an 88% success rate on the penalty kill.

The Canes’ penalty kill numbers will certainly come down from that lofty number — you don’t go up against a power play as strong as the Rangers every day in the regular season — but it’s also fair to suggest that it’s unlikely the Blueshirts comes close to a 31.6% success rate when they’re a man up.

Carolina’s 5-on-5 advantage in this series should be significant. The Hurricanes finished with the third-best goal differential, second-best shot attempt rate, fourth-best goals rate, and third-best high-danger scoring chance rate in the NHL over the regular season. The Blueshirts ranked 14th, 25th, 24th, and 21st, respectively, in those same categories. And while the Rangers did improve at even strength down the stretch, all that good work went out the window against the Penguins, who are a good 5-on-5 team but nowhere close to Carolina.

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When you size up these two teams, it’s hard to look past Carolina’s significant advantages. The Canes are deeper, much stronger at 5-on-5, and have the special teams to nullify the Rangers’ power play. Shesterkin could always be the great equalizer, but it took an avalanche of bad breaks for the Penguins to get the Rangers to this point and it’s hard to see that repeating itself for this series.

Rangers vs. Hurricanes series prediction

Carolina Hurricanes -1.5 games +110 (Caesars)


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