Given the Hurricanes’ results during this Stanley Cup Playoff, this article could be very brief. The home team is 6-0 in this series and 13-0 in the postseason in games involving Carolina. So the headline could simply be: “Grab the sticks and go.”
However, the longer version requires a philosophical debate.
In the playoffs, we’re focusing on a consistently strong game from the regular season, with more weight given to the post-All-Star rest schedule. Once we reach the second round, the metrics from the first round are added to the equation.
All of this information pointed to the Hurricanes’ five-on-five driving game during that series to a sufficiently significant degree to overcome outlier factors and be worth a hefty series prize. The Canes were the better team during the regular season and the Rangers were lucky to progress through the first round as they watched the Penguins amass an incredible 59 more high-risk chances on equal strength in seven games.
Here are the five-a-side metrics over six games in Round 2:
|TEAM||xG 5-ON-5||HDC 5-ON-5|
Despite the difference in scoring chances, the Hurricanes have nine goals to the Rangers’ eight in the five-a-side game. And despite the 29 other chances to score in dangerous areas, Carolina has the same number of goals as New York under the circumstances: four.
Game 7: Rangers (+120) @ Hurricanes (-145)
The metrics did what we asked them to do; They predicted who would be the better team in this series. But it didn’t translate enough on the ice.
There are two game categories that can become a potential outlier – special teams and goalies.
In the other Eastern Conference semifinals, they favored Lightning, causing the betting outsider to pull off an unlikely series sweep. The short-term variance in Andrei Vasilevskiy’s performance, combined with a plus-3 goal difference in just four games worth special teams, was too much for the Panthers.
In this series, the special teams game has only slightly favored the Rangers. This means the other outlier above was the significant difference in keeping New York alive.
Igor Shesterkin only allows 4.9% of the chances of the Hurricanes of the same strength and high danger to get past him. As is often the case with goalkeepers, he was also the main reason Rangers converted all but one penalty in six games.
The Hurricanes haven’t been able to capitalize on their inherent advantages in this series, and if there were seven more games to close that lead with a larger sample size, I’d feel comfortable tying a prize with the better team. However, we only have one contest left to decide who advances and the last we saw of Antti Raanta he was drawn after giving up two soft goals to start Game 6.
Equally concerning was the body language of his teammates, which suggested a loss of confidence in their back-up goalkeeper. The playoffs started well enough for Raanta, but it’s possible that a heavy workload will take its toll.
Whether it’s the punchy 60 minutes or the heightened nerves should Game 7 go beyond regulations, I’d rather take the plus money for a keeper I can count on in a low event single game, even if I know that the favorite is likely to generate the better scoring chances.
Choose: Ranger’s Money Line (+120)
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there’s a bad beat, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.