Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Rangers Series Prediction: Can We Expect a Hurricanes Victory?

NHL handicapper Jason Yamaguchi breaks down Wednesday's NHL second-round matchup between the Carolina Hurricanes and the New York Rangers.
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Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Rangers Series Prediction: Can We Expect a Hurricanes Victory?

With the final first-round games concluding over the past couple of days, the second-round matchups for the NHL playoffs are set. Two of the teams that won their respective first-round series in seven games, the Carolina Hurricanes and the New York Rangers, will be facing each other for a spot in the Eastern Conference finals. What should we expect to see in this series? Here is my prediction, pick, and the odds for the Carolina Hurricanes vs New York Rangers series.

Hurricanes vs. Rangers Game 1 Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

  • Date: May 18, 2022
  • Game Time: 7:00 pm ET
  • Where to Watch: ESPN

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Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Rangers Series Prediction

Both teams have had to fight tooth and nail just to get to this point. The Hurricanes, as winners of the Metropolitan Division with 116 points, drew the wildcard-seeded Bruins in the first round. The home team won each of the seven games in the series, with the Hurricanes closing it out in Carolina on Saturday. The magnitude of the Hurricanes' home-ice advantage was apparent during all four of their home games; it will be difficult for the Rangers to overcome.

New York, unlike Carolina, did not lead their series at any point until after the final game. The Rangers, who faced the Penguins in the first round, put themselves in a hole, falling behind three games to one by dropping two straight in Pittsburgh. However, they managed to rattle off three straight wins, including two games in which they overcame two-goal deficits, to advance to the next round. Will the Rangers be able to pull off that type of magical comeback if they fall behind again? Possibly, but the numbers say that it might be a much taller task.

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Five-on-Five Trouble

The Rangers, throughout the majority of the regular season, won a lot of games in spite of their even-strength play. They relied on MVP-caliber goaltending and strong special teams to carry them through stretches when they were heavily out-chanced at even strength. With regard to the concerns that the Rangers are not well-equipped to hold up at 5v5, their first-round series against the Penguins raised more questions than it answered. New York posted a woeful 36.49% expected goals to share in the series, by far the lowest of any team in these playoffs. In fact, it was the lowest expected goals share recorded by a series-winning team in the shot-tracking era.

The Hurricanes are an even better team in this category than the Penguins are/were. During the regular season, the Canes held the third-highest 5v5 expected goals share in the league at 55.68%, trailing only the Bruins (their first-round opponent) and the President's trophy-winning Panthers. Carolina marginally lost the expected goals battle against Boston (48.13%) but won the actual goals battle (61.54%) by a wide margin due to efficient finishing and superior special teams.

Overall, none of this bodes well for the Rangers. The Hurricanes boast an elite top line — consisting of Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, and Seth Jarvis — that managed to find success against Boston's high-end defensive system. Without major adjustments on New York's side, that line may dominate in the same way that the Crosby-Guentzel-Rust line did in round one. Carolina is also deeper than New York, both upfront and on defense.

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Neutralizing New York's Strengths

The Rangers' power-play, just as it was during the regular season, was a key factor in propelling them past the Penguins. Despite only 19 penalties being called on Pittsburgh — tied for the fewest of any team in the first round — New York scored six times on the man-advantage, including Artemi Panarin's series-winner in overtime of Game 7. That translates to a 31.6% scoring rate, which ranks third out of all 16 playoff teams.

The problem is that the Hurricanes have arguably the league's best penalty kill. They successfully killed off 88% of their penalties during the regular season, the highest kill rate in the league. Their penalty-kill also ranked first in expected goals allowed per 60, meaning that it is exceedingly difficult to generate high-quality chances against the unit. New York's power-play may manage to break through, but not at the rate that they have managed in games past.

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The Stylistic Matchup

More generally, the Hurricanes are a stylistic nightmare for the Rangers. The Canes play a suffocating style, clogging up the passing lanes in every zone and making opponents pay for every inch of ice gained. Carolina's aggressive forecheck is exceedingly difficult to counter, an edge that is compounded at home due to the energy they seem to draw from the crowd. All of those things will be issues for New York, a team that was hemmed in their own zone for long stretches by Pittsburgh.

The Rangers like to play an east-to-west style, which can produce breathtaking goals when the passing lanes open up. However, those passing lanes are rarely open in the playoffs, and even less so against a team that plays like the Hurricanes. In the first round, New York turned the puck over 148 times, the most of any team by a wide margin. They will need to make major adjustments, or they will struggle to generate any offense against Carolina.

Final Thoughts on Hurricanes vs Rangers Series

At the end of the day, any team can win any given game or series. There are no guarantees in the NHL playoffs. That being said, the Rangers seem overmatched in this spot. The only reason I'm not making this a bigger bet is Igor Shesterkin. He struggled in spots against Pittsburgh, but his regular-season performance indicates that he has the upside to win a series on his own. Goaltending is the only factor in New York's favor — everything else points in Carolina's direction. I don't love laying -200 juice if I can help it, so I'm taking the Hurricanes on the series spread (-1.5 games) rather than the moneyline.

Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Rangers Series Pick

Pick (1 unit): Hurricanes Series -1.5 (+112) (Bet $112 to win $100)

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Jason Yamaguchi is an avid New York sports fan. He has a proven record of providing +EV bets by combining traditional handicapping tactics with advanced statistics. You can follow him on Twitter @TopMoneyPicks to view all of his bets, including NFL, NHL, and MLB picks.

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