Today's Free Picks for
Posted May 30, before Game 1.
Carolina in the Series +115
5:05 PM EST. The Nashville Predators almost had an answer for Carolina. It seemed like that series was destined for a sweep from the moment the puck dropped in Game 1 but then the Preds evened up the series before Carolina rallied in back-to-back games to win it in six. Easy it was not and if you’re a fan of the “Canes or are thinking about betting them here, we’d be very concerned about how difficult it was for them to beat the 16th best team in the playoffs. Alex Nedeljkovic’s performance in the six games didn’t match his stellar regular season but luckily for Carolina, Jusse Saros for Nashville was less impressive. The Carolina/Nashville series featured the worst goaltending among all eight matchups based on Expected Save Percentages.
As we said in our round 1 preview, Nikita Kucherov’s “rust” will not be mentioned again after Game 1. Dude scored two goals and that was the end of the conversation. The Lightning seem to have everything, but if not for Andrei Vasilevskiy (and terrible results from Bobrovsky in the limited games he played), they were close to being on the wrong side of an upset. Florida outperformed them in most shot metrics at both even strength and on the powerplay, and if not for Lightning’s absurd 35% shooting percentage and eight goals, they could be watching from the rails. Aside from goaltending, Florida was better than Tampa Bay so if you are thinking about betting Tampa, we’d be very concerned about how easily Florida was creating chance after chance after chance.
There’s no crystal ball in the world that can predict whether or not Nedeljkovic will get his mojo back so we’re not even going to try. What we can suggest is that Carolina’s goaltending is very likely going to be better than Florida’s was until the Panthers decided to start Spencer Knight in Game 5 but by then, the hole was too large to crawl out of. Had Knight started Game 1, we’d probably be discussing the Panthers and not the Bolts. We have also established that Florida was the better team based on all the puck possession metrics but weak goaltending cost the Panthers the series. It is therefore reasonable to suggest that Carolina will win the puck possession battle here and that Tampa will need a bit of luck and great goaltending to win both the series and individual games, especially in Carolina. When this series shifts back to Tampa, the Bolts will be at least a -130 favorite and maybe even higher so shouldn’t Carolina be given the same respect in their barn? Of course they should and therein lies the value.
The Hurricanes' metrics were elite all year long, both on offense and defense. Part of the reason that Carolina’s defensive metrics were so good is because it always had the puck. On average, the ‘Canes attempted 13 more shots per hour than its opponents per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. That was second in the league to Colorado’s off the charts +23. Carolina is going to possess the puck and create more chances than Tampa this entire series and with that being the case, they are absolutely, 100% undervalued in Game 1 and probably in the series too.
The wagers Carolina in Game 1 -110
Carolina in the Series +115
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Carolina +115 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.30)