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Posted at 3:30 PM EST.
Carolina -110 over Boston
Posted on May 2nd before Game 1
7:00 PM EST. We are not in the business of predicting the outcomes of games, rather we are looking for value from any angle we can. It is with that in mind that we were immediately drawn to this Hurricanes/Bruins series.
We have heard the case that’s being made for the Bruins and to be honest, it’s not bad on the surface. Boston has been one of the hottest teams down the stretch, winning six of their last seven games. A quick look at the analytics back that up as well. The Bruins have been one of the top puck possession teams the last two weeks of the season (fourth), second in expected goals for, and fourth in high danger scoring chances. Those are all signs of a team that appears to be ready for the playoffs.
The problem for Boston is that it did not draw inferior competition. There is a reason that Tampa Bay did all they could to prevent the B’s from finishing third. Maybe the Bolts wanted Toronto, or maybe they didn’t want anything to do with these Hurricanes.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said that his team is healthy and ready to go with all hands on deck. Despite that revelation, the ‘Canes have to be licking their chops here with the aged Bruins on the menu. Patrice Bergeron is 36. Brad Marchand will be a well worn 34 in nine days. Nick Foligno is 34. Craig Smith is 32. Do you want to feel old? Taylor Hall is 30 y’all and so is Charlie Coyle. Erik Haula is 31. You get the point. This team is a collection of fossils. Where it matters most, between the pipes, they’ve got a baby faced netminder that has barely sniffed the postseason (just 18:34 of action against the Islanders last June letting in one goal on three shots).
Let’s take some time for Jeremy Swayman, whose .922 save percentage ranks just 21st among NHL goalies with at least 20 starts. If you wanted to include 19 game starters Eric Comrie of Winnipeg and Brian Elliot of Tampa Bay, he’d be 23rd. That’s not elite. Neither is his 41st place ranking in high danger saves (159). Swayman’s high danger save percentage is a puny .862. Do you know who is going to get plenty of high danger scoring chances? That’s right, the Hurricanes.
There is no team the analytics have liked more the last two weeks, last two months or last two years than the ‘Canes. The problem for Carolina has been its inability to find a goaltender to back up the numbers. In the final two weeks of the season, the Hurricanes did not let up, winning their final six games, setting franchise records with 54 wins and 116 points. When it comes to recent form, the ‘Canes have been tops. First in puck possession, first in expected goals, first in high danger scoring chances. There is no team in better form than Carolina. The only criticism, again, is their goaltending, as 35-game winner Freddie Anderson is injured and will not be available. However, we are willing to suggest that this is not necessarily a bad thing.
Antti Raanta played in five games, including the April 16 contest in which Anderson was hurt and he stepped up and performed admirably winning all his starts and stopping 28-of-32 high danger shots against him. It wasn’t that long ago that we suggested that Raanta might be the best goalie in this league. That was when he was on a gawdawful Coyotes side. For a comparison, backstopping those Arizona teams was like racing in the Daytona 500 with a boxcar. Now, Raanta has been given the keys to his own high performance race car. You don’t think he’s going to be ready for the moment? Furthermore, it’s worth noting that although Andersen had a great year, his M.O. has always been a great regular season followed by a shaky playoffs. We don’t see no Freddy Andersen as being a problem.
While what happens in the regular season should stay in the regular season, it is hard to ignore the total dominance the Hurricanes inflicted upon the Bruins during their three regular season games. Carolina outscored Boston 16-1. That’s right, 16 to 1. That has got to be rotting in the back of the Bruins' minds ahead of Game 1. If they get down again and have to come back, one goal in three games figures to play on their collective minds.
At the end of the day, the price and the perception of value is what matters most here and to that end, pricing these Hurricanes against these Bruins with the former holding home ice advantage in the pick ‘em range is off base. Seriously, how can that be? Man for man, the ‘Canes are better, younger and hungrier across the board. We don’t need to line them up, but the Hurricanes feature a fearsome group of young forwards that will skate circles around the B’s. On defense, it’s not even close, as the ‘Canes go six deep. The Bruins are getting far too much respect here based on their pedigree and high profile core, but it’s time to put the likes of Bergeron and Marchand out to pasture. A coin flip this is not. Play the Hurricanes accordingly.
Carolina -110 (Risking 2.20 units - To Win: 2.00)