NHL Betting Guide: Tuesday 8/4/20

Artemi Panarin leads Rangers forwards in ice-time through two games. Can he help New York stave off elimination in a must-win Game 3?

Suffice it to say, NHL hockey in August is tremendous. Action through the opening weekend has been nothing short of electric. We get playoff intensity, highlight-reel goals, back-and-forth action, questionable hits to go along with a healthy dose of fisticuffs, for good measure. There's no slowing down today with six games on the docket, including a couple series on the second night of a back-to-back.

Here's what we're looking at!

New York Rangers vs Carolina Hurricanes

Rangers +1.5 (-230): 5-Star Rating Out of 5
Rangers Moneyline (+125): 4-Star Rating Out of 5

The Carolina Hurricanes have enjoyed a fruitful start to the NHL postseason, winning the first two games of their five-game set against the New York Rangers.

These teams find themselves back in action without a day off after Carolina took a 4-1 victory yesterday morning. Historically, back-to-backs have not been kind to Petr Mrazek, who has just 2 wins in 11 starts with zero days rest. The same can be said about Mrazek and his numbers against the Rangers throughout his career. Mrazek is 3-4-0 with a 3.03 goals against average and 88.6% save percentage in seven starts against New York. The Canes will have to help Mrazek fight off both trends if they want to complete the three-game sweep.

New York has been let down by the one thing that kept them competitive throughout the season -- their shooting percentage. The Rangers have capitalized on only 6.0% of their shots through their first two playoff games, which is a steep departure from their 10.7% season-long average. Artemi Panarin and company did improve their possession, shots, and scoring chances in game two, and they'll have to continue to improve in those metrics to fight their way back into contention in this series. Expect New York to regain their form as they progress towards the benchmark they set throughout the season.

Our modeling gives the Rangers a significant advantage in tonight's contest. Thanks to "home-ice" advantage, the Rangers will be able to take advantage of favorable line matchups. Expect Panarin to get his lion's share of offensive zone starts as the Rangers will rely on his offensive prowess in a must-win scenario.

There are two plays worth highlighting ahead of tonight's game. First, the Rangers are currently listed as +125 underdogs at FanDuel Sportsbook, which carries with it an implied probability of 44.4%. The difference between that and our projections, which give the Rangers a 61.6% chance at winning, is substantive enough for a four-star rating. Second, if nothing else, New York should at least be able to keep things close as they try to avoid being eliminated. It's on that basis that Rangers +1.5 is rated as a five-Star play.

Winnipeg Jets vs Calgary Flames

Jets +1.5 (-200): 5-Star Rating Out of 5
Jets Moneyline (+135): 4-Star Rating Out of 5

The Winnipeg Jets are another team that will be looking to exploit line matchups as they enjoy last change for the first time this postseason.

Winnipeg was victorious yesterday despite missing two key members, Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine. The Jets relied on their depth as seven different players collected points on three goals. Mum's the word on Scheifele and Laine's participation tonight, but the Jets have shown the ability to cycle through their lineup throughout the season. Scoring depth will continue to be a crutch that the Jets rely on as they progress through the postseason. They'll hope to use that to their advantage tonight as they take advantage of last change as the home team.

Throughout the 2018-19 NHL season, we saw how dominant the Calgary Flames offense can be. Unfortunately, the Flames have been unable to duplicate that level of success this season. Through two games, Calgary's offense has been uninspired, to say the least. At 5-on-5 Calgary has generated five high-danger chances for, in total! They managed two such opportunities in the first game and three in the second. 5-on-5 scoring chances are equally hard to come by, with Calgary managing a cumulative 30 chances to start the postseason.

Calgary failed to capitalize on six power-play opportunities in Game 2. To make matters worse, they generated only one high-danger chance on four scoring chances with the man-advantage. They'll have to create more chances and make the most of those opportunities if they hope to regain the advantage in this series.

Cam Talbot came back down to earth after a brilliant start to the postseason. In Game 1, he stopped 94.4% of shots faced en route to victory. In Game 2, his save percentage dropped substantially to 88.5%. The problem is his Game 2 performance is closer to what we've come to expect from Talbot over the last few years. This season was the first time in three years that his season long save percentage was above 90.0%. His age, career statistics, and inconsistent efforts throughout the season suggest that regression is looming.

Our model shows that the Jets hold a significant advantage, which isn't reflected in the betting market. Winnipeg is listed as +135 underdogs despite owning a 62.0% chance of winning, according to our projections. As such, the Jets moneyline is rated as a four-star play. As the Jets are installed as underdogs, that means they are listed at +1.5. Taking them on the puckline is rated as a five-star play.