NHL: Predictions, Best Bets for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final

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The Eastern Conference Final is not the matchup that most people expected, the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers are fast, hardworking teams that forecheck relentlessly, so this should be a classic series. Game 1 is set for Thursday in Carolina and the Hurricanes are a consensus -145 moneyline favorite according to VSiN’s NHL Odds page, while the Panthers are carrying a consensus price of +125.

NHL: Predictions, Best Bets for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final

As far as predictions go, the hockey world seems to be all over the place. For example, ESPN pundits were split 12-12 when asked who would win the Eastern Conference Final, but more than 70 percent of the voters at The Athletic picked Carolina to win the series. However, outside of ESPN’s John Buccigross, who picked the Panthers to win in five, and a small percentage of writers at The Athletic that picked the Hurricanes to win in five games, all pundits seem to believe that this series will go six or seven games.

 

Today’s NHL Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook

Carolina Hurricanes -145
Florida Panthers +125

Carolina is getting boost heading into Game 1, too, as forward Teuvo Teravainen is set to play for the first time since he sustained an injury back on April 19th. There was some question as to whether he would be ready for the start of the series, but that was answered on Thursday morning when the team announced his return to the lineup. This has caused the line to shift in the home team’s direction a bit, but my reasoning for betting the Panthers earlier still applies.

Carolina’s first opponent, the Islanders, were tough, but they weren’t skilled enough. Their next opponent, the Devils, were fast and skilled, but they weren’t tough enough. Florida has skill, speed, and toughness, and I’m willing to give ‘Playoff Bob’ another shot here in Game 1. Shop around if you’re going to bet on the Panthers as they can be found nearing +130 at some shops. According to my model, the home team should be priced around -115. I think Carolina will win the series about 54 percent of the time, but I have their odds of winning Game 1 at around 53.3 percent.

We talked to hockey writer and forecaster Dom Luszcyszyn on Thursday’s episode of the VSiN Hockey Betting Podcast. Dom shared his thoughts on each matchup and gave out a longshot bet to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the NHL Playoffs. Check out my Eastern Conference Final prediction and my breakdown of the Conn Smythe Trophy odds here. All bets tracked via Betstamp.