New Jersey Devils vs Carolina Hurricanes: Odds, series probabilities and predictions

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It didn’t look like the Devils would win a game, much less win the series, but New Jersey stormed back losing the first two games at home to beat the Rangers and set up a second-round matchup with the Metropolitan Division champs. Carolina has been sitting for a while, after being the first team to advance last week, but the Hurricanes won’t have to wait long as the series starts on Wednesday.

 

Series Winner Odds

  • New Jersey Devils -130
  • Carolina Hurricanes +110

Series Spread Odds

New Jersey Devils

  • -2.5 Games (+300)
  • +2.5 Games (-600)
  • +1.5 Games (-280)
  • -1.5 Games (+135)

Carolina Hurricanes

  • -2.5 Games (+450)
  • +2.5 Games (-400)
  • +1.5 Games (-165)
  • -1.5 Games (+220)

Series Correct Score

New Jersey Devils

  • 4-0 (+900)
  • 4-1 (+550)
  • 4-2 (+400)
  • 4-3 (+500)

Carolina Hurricanes

  • 4-0 (+1500)
  • 4-1 (+700)
  • 4-2 (+600)
  • 4-3 (+475)

Series Total Games

  • Four Games (+600)
  • Five Games (+270)
  • Six Games (+200)
  • Seven Games (+200)

To get a sense of each team’s strengths and weaknesses, let’s take a closer look at their respective statistics and compare them head-to-head. Here’s a tale of the tape for the upcoming series:

Carolina and New Jersey ranked first and second in even-strength expected goals percentage during the regular season and they split the season series, so this matchup should be a close one.

Offense

Carolina’s injuries are well documented, and the Hurricanes’ offense isn’t as strong as it projected to be. They weren’t a good offensive team down the stretch, ranking 24th in goals (per 60) at even strength following Andrei Svechnikov’s season-ending injury and although they did score more goals (per 60) than the Devils did in the first round, New Jersey generated just as many expected goals per game, but Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin saved approximately 10 goals above expected.

The Islanders don’t have the speed or the skill that the Devils do, and it’s not going to be easy for the Hurricanes to contain them. The Devils generate more shot attempts and more scoring chances. In fact, no team generated more high-danger chances than the Devils did in the first round, unlike the Hurricanes who tend to choose quantity over quality. I give the edge to the Devils here.

Defense

Carolina probably has a tactical advantage over New Jersey because they’re a well-coached team with a lot of playoff experience. The Hurricanes were arguably the best defensive team in the regular season, ranking first in shots and expected goals against and they had the second-best penalty kill in the NHL. The Devils match up quite well here, grading out as a top-10 team in those categories, and the adjustments head coach Lindy Ruff made in their first-round series versus the Rangers showed that the roster is maybe a little more versatile that first thought.

The Devils and Hurricanes rank fourth and fifth, respectively, in expected goals against, after the first round, but when you consider each team’s previous opponents, that’s a bit of a knock on Carolina. The Rangers are loaded with offensive threats, unlike the Islanders, and the Devils managed to play better defense than the Hurricanes. That’s something New Jersey can hang their hat on heading into this series, and if their goaltending holds up, my preference will be to bet on them.

Goaltending

After Antti Raanta went 3-2 against the Islanders, Carolina turned to Frederik Andersen to finish them off in Game 6 and he did just that, allowing one goal on 34 shots. Andersen had an average season, though, and while he did look good in one game, there’s going to be a stark contrast between the types of shots he faced versus New York and what New Jersey has in store for him. Raanta wasn’t bad in five games versus the Islanders, either, and the Devils have never beaten him.

For the Devils, rookie goaltender Akira Schmid is one of the best stories in the NHL playoffs after going 3-1 versus the Rangers and earning two shutouts. The 22-year-old was decent in the regular season when he did play, but he ranks first among goaltenders in the playoffs with a .951 save percentage. Only Igor Shesterkin had a better GSAx in round one, the Hurricanes can always go back to Vitek Vanecek, who went 2-1 and posted a shutout against the Hurricanes in the regular season, but they’re in a good place with Schmid for now.

Who will win the series?

A best-of-7 series can result in a range of outcomes, from a clean sweep by one team to a full seven-game series that could go either way, so it’s important to view it that way. Here are my estimated series probabilities:

Series Prediction

New Jersey is a slight favorite again, but the odds are tight, and this series should be a long one. I predict that the series will go at least six games 63 percent of the time, but my model leans toward the Devils (51 percent) following their strong performance in Game 7 versus the Rangers.