NHL Betting Guide for May 17th: Back the Boston Bruins over the Washington Capitals?

“Unprecedented” was a buzzword that was tossed around liberally throughout 2020. Fifteen months later, it still applies, as the NHL works to conclude its regular season while also getting the playoffs underway. We have a playoff-only schedule tonight, featuring series from the East, Central, and West Divisions, featuring picks from the East and Central matchups in today’s edition of the NHL Betting Guide.

Here are the wagers courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook!

Carolina Hurricanes vs. Nashville Predators, Moneyline, Total, and Odds

Moneyline: Hurricanes -188, Predators +158

Spread: Hurricanes -1.5 (+150), Predators +1.5 (-182)

Total: o5.5 +116

Odds to Stanley Cup:

Odds courtesy of Fanduel Sportsbook. Sign up for FanDuel Sportsbook today and get your first bet risk-free for up to $1,000!

Carolina Hurricanes vs. Nashville Predators News, Analysis, and Picks

It’s been a rough start for favorites in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs as they’ve dropped three of the first four games. We’re betting that the Carolina Hurricanes help buck that trend against the Nashville Predators tonight.

The Preds ended the season on a high note by winning four of their five games in May, the final two coming against the Hurricanes. But those victories were the exception, not the rule this season, and we’re expecting a more humbling experience in Carolina.

The Canes won the first six games of the season series by a cumulative 23-9 score. Carolina put up 11 or more high-danger chances and 25 or more scoring chances across all strengths in four of those six games. The Canes averaged 32.5 scoring chances, 14.8 of which were of the high-danger variety, on home ice against the Preds, thanks largely to two monster home efforts.

Juuse Saros had a Vezina-caliber season in 2021, posting a 21-11-1 record, with a 92.7% save percentage and the third-best goals saved above average at 20.71. However, Saros didn’t fare as well against the Canes this season, posting a 1-2-0 record and a 91.7% save percentage. That’s part of a career-long struggle in which Saros has gone 1-5-1 with a 2.65 goals-against average and 91.8% save percentage.

Carolina had the third-best expected goals-for percentage at home this season, and the Preds had the 11th worst expected goals-for percentage on the road.  The Canes have posted an expected goals-for percentage below 50.0% in just two of their last 16 games while posting a game score above 60.0% in eight of those games. They’ve also attempted fewer than 10 high-danger chances in just two home games this season. Home ice is a big advantage for the Canes.

We’re expecting the Hurricanes to use home ice to their advantage on Monday night and get past the Predators. It may take an empty netter, but this one should also find its way over the total.

The Bets: Hurricanes -188, Over 5.5 +116

Boston Bruins vs. Washington Capitals, Moneyline, Total, and Odds

Moneyline: Bruins -130, Capitals +110

Spread: Bruins-1.5 (+215), Capitals +1.5 (-265)

Total: o5.5 +116

Odds to Stanley Cup:

Odds courtesy of Fanduel Sportsbook. Sign up for FanDuel Sportsbook today and get your first bet risk-free for up to $1,000!

Boston Bruins vs. Washington Capitals News, Analysis, and Picks

The Boston Bruins were one of the unlucky favorites to drop their opening game of the playoffs. In reviewing their game score, they deserved a better outcome in Game 1 but should extend their run of dominant play in Game 2 versus the Washington Capitals.

The Bruins relied on impressive defensive zone coverage against the Capitals, allowing only five high-danger chances in nearly 65 minutes of action. That was the ninth time in 10 games in which the Bruins allowed fewer than 10 high-danger chances. The only game in which an opponent managed 10 was their regular-season finale against the Caps when most of the Bruins’ top two lines were rested.

Doubts about goaltending also arise when thinking about the Capitals. Vitek Vanecek left early in Game 1 and was replaced by Craig Anderson. Anderson filled in admirably when called upon but was used sparingly this season. Anderson has posted a cumulative 90.0% save percentage over his previous three seasons, which could be why he played only 168:44 minutes this season. Ilya Samsonov is back skating with the Caps, but a timetable for his return has not yet been outlined. The Caps can’t continue to expect Anderson to steal them games.

The Bruins remain progression candidates. They posted a .992 PDO through the regular season and followed that up with a .983 PDO in their first game of the postseason. Boston also has an actual goals-for percentage below expected, both of which imply that the Bruins are due for some puck-luck.

The betting market has shifted in favor of the Capitals since opening, and that trend may continue until we get closer to puck drop. Considering the goaltending concerns surrounding the Caps and that Boston has been the better team through the regular season and into the first game of this series, we’re expecting a different outcome in Game 2.

The Bet: Bruins -130