NHL Betting Guide: Thursday 5/18/23

Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals is tonight, bringing plenty of pressure and a chance to move closer to the Stanley Cup Finals. What is the best way to approach tonight's game?

Note: Lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. Header links are to numberFire's betting model for each game. All NHL betting odds and totals come from FanDuel Sportsbook.

Florida Panthers at Carolina Hurricanes

Over 5.5 (-128)

Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals gets underway tonight with the Carolina Hurricanes hosting the Florida Panthers.

Both teams won their most recent series in five games and enter well-rested in the push toward the Stanley Cup Finals. Both teams have been flexing their offenses throughout the playoffs while their defenses have shown their own success.

However, their defenses and goaltending have been overperforming to this point, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see a few extra pucks slip through.

Through 12 games in the playoffs, the Panthers have allowed a total of 37 goals in all situations, while their expected goals allowed is up at 47.77. This is due in large part to Sergei Bobrovsky, who leads all goalies in the playoffs with 9.3 goals saved above expectation (GSAx).

While Bobrovsky has been elite, all good things must come to an end. The Hurricanes have scored 40 goals through 11 games in the playoffs while holding a 54.83% Corsi For (total shot attempts) percentage -- the highest of any team in the postseason. This will be Bobrovsky's toughest thus far in the playoffs.

For the Hurricanes, they have overperformed, as well -- but not nearly by the same margin as the Panthers have. Carolina has allowed 28 goals in all situations, with their expected goals allowed right at 30.87.

While I expect the defense to tighten up as the series progresses, we could see plenty of scoring in the first few games.