NHL Play-In Round Betting: New York Rangers vs. Carolina Hurricanes
The NHL is back and we have a set of qualifying series for 16 teams to make the playoffs. There are four series in the Eastern Conference and four series in the Western Conference, which will seed the teams into the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
This is a best-of-five series, and it should go without saying, but there is no home-ice advantage since the games are being played in the NHL Toronto Bubble.
New York Rangers vs. Carolina Hurricanes
During the 2019-20 regular season, the Rangers and Hurricanes played against each other a total of four times since they are both in the Metropolitan Division. Surprisingly, the Rangers won all four games and held a +8 goal differential. I say surprisingly considering the fact the Rangers were among the worst defensive teams in the league, while the Hurricanes were not only strong on offense but also one of the best in preventing opposing shot attempts.
One shot metric to look at for the NHL is Corsi, which can be referred to as Corsi For -- shot attempts generated on offense -- or Corsi Against -- shot attempts allowed while on defense. Shot attempts equate to overall offensive pressure, and thus, more opportunities to score goals. The opposite is also true for defense -- allowing more shot attempts is bad and puts your goalie under pressure all game.
In 5v5 situations, the Rangers were dead last in the league with a 61.56 Corsi Against per 60 minutes. On offense, they held a 54 Corsi For, which had them ranked 24th. As for the Hurricanes, they held a 50.63 Corsi Against per 60 minutes, which was second-best in the league, along with a 60.14 Corsi For per 60 minutes -- the fifth-highest.
These are two teams at the opposite ends of the spectrum, yet, the Rangers were able to come away with four wins in four games against the Hurricanes this season.
Now, just because the Rangers won all four games doesn't mean it was all sunshine and rainbows for them. In fact, they got outplayed by the Hurricanes in three of the four games and could've been graced by a bit of puck luck in the victories.
Despite losing all four games, the Hurricanes were truly able to flex their muscles during the regular season matchups, which should be the main point to focus on. If we take a look at each of the four games, you will see how dominant the Hurricanes actually were in each game.
The first time they played, the Hurricanes held a 76 Corsi For in 5v5 situations -- meaning a 76 Corsi Against for the Rangers -- and a 31 Corsi Against. In the second game, the Hurricanes had a 57 Corsi For and a 35 Corsi Against. In the third game, it was a 53 Corsi For and a 30 Corsi Against. Finally, the fourth game saw the Hurricanes hold a 41 Corsi For and a 44 Corsi Against.
Carolina simply dominated the first three games and somehow lost each one. The final game was nearly neutral, but the Hurricanes were still unable to come away with the win.
Regular Season Results
If we look beyond the four games they played each other, we can get a better idea of how good (or bad) each team actually was.
Taking a look at the entire season for each team, it clearly shows the Hurricanes are elite at preventing shot attempts compared to the Rangers, along with outpacing them in offensive shot attempts. Further down, we can see that the power play for each team is nearly identical, but the Rangers' penalty kill is worlds behind the Hurricanes. When the Rangers take penalties, it almost always leads to goals for the opposing team -- putting the Rangers behind quickly.
How To Bet The Series
When it comes down to it, the Hurricanes are the better team in nearly every aspect of the game, and despite the 0-4 results in the regular season, you should look to side with them over the Rangers. At -136 odds for the Hurricanes to win the series, there isn't much juice to side with a strong team and get the return of the NHL started in a big way.