Hurricanes-Rangers series preview: Betting by the numbers

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No matter the sport, bettors who are handicapping a series should start by establishing a rating for the teams involved. We now have information from before the campaign, during the regular season, and after the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

However, the Rangers' win over the Penguins and, to a lesser extent, the Hurricanes' victory over the Bruins will throw a wrench into any rating you could establish.

New York somehow stole a series from Pittsburgh without getting complete heroics from Igor Shesterkin. Even in the Rangers' Game 7 win, they weren't the better team at even strength.

TEAM 5-ON-5 XG% (Series) XG% (Game 7)
Rangers 16.13 1.88
Penguins 25.75 3.86

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes won all four home games despite accumulating fewer expected goals at even strength than the Bruins (8.53 to 6.88) in Raleigh.

Should the Canes be graded on a curve because they beat a Boston team that was arguably the best in the league after the All-Star break? If the Rangers' predictive metrics again suggest they'll be dominated - this time at the hands of a Carolina team that's better than the Penguins - how big of an underdog should they be?

Series odds

TEAM GAME 1 SERIES SERIES HANDICAP
Hurricanes -165 -200 -1.5 (-115)
Rangers +140 +165 +1.5 (-115)

The market has established that Carolina will win this series 66% of the time. If the Rangers play like they did last week, though, that win probability is a massive underestimation.

Projected prices

Hopefully, you used our NHL betting guide to evaluate your bets during the regular season and what value truly means in hockey. For the playoffs, we're using even-strength-centric metrics like expected goals and high-danger chance rates, as well as high-danger conversion rates - both for and against - to try to predict who'll play better in the postseason.

True moneylines

The true moneyline takes the implied win probability for each team and converts it to an inverted price for each side before the sportsbook takes its vig on a bet.

The following is the expected price for each side when the games are played in Carolina (Games 1, 2, 5, and 7), and New York (Games 3, 4, and 6).

HURRICANES RANGERS
True ML at Carolina -219 +219
True ML at New York -119 +119
Series Price -317 +317

Price to bet

In the regular season, we'd need at least a 4% edge on an underdog and a 1% edge for the favorite. Using that same threshold, here are the prices to bet for each scenario:

GAME 1/2/5/7 GAME 3/4/6 SERIES
HURRICANES -210 -114 -300
RANGERS +266 +140 +400

Even with a generous weighting toward the Rangers' regular-season metrics, there's natural value on any bet on the Hurricanes based on my projections for what share of the play New York will drive against Carolina.

Derivative series market

The following is my probability for each of the eight possible series results, along with a fair price for an exact result bet.

Series result Probability/Converted odds
Hurricanes 4-0 13.9% / +619
Hurricanes 4-1 24.8% / +303
Hurricanes 4-2 18.9% / +430
Hurricanes 4-3 18.4% / +443
Rangers 4-0 2% / +4787
Rangers 4-1 4.3% / +2208
Rangers 4-2 9.2% / +984
Rangers 4-3 8.4% / +1091

The Hurricanes winning in six games is the fair price point in the "exact result" market. Betting on Carolina to take care of the Rangers prior to that is where some value lies.

Best bets

The concern with fading the Rangers begins and ends with Shesterkin. The version that looks like the Vezina favorite is capable of stealing games. However, Shesterkin also found himself on the bench midway through a pair of contests against Pittsburgh.

Unlike the Penguins, who largely unraveled during Sidney Crosby's absence, Carolina is deep enough to withstand a key injury to a deep forward crew. The Hurricanes likely won't need three goaltenders, but if they do, their defense is capable of holding up even better than they did against Boston.

With the league's best penalty kill during the regular season, the Canes probably won't provide the extra chances the Rangers will need to steal games for Shesterkin. (Yes, the Penguins had an excellent kill as well.)

Plus, with minimal home-ice advantage for the Rangers, there's no reason to think Carolina couldn't close out New York at MSG, if this series even gets that far.

Given the Rangers pulled off the upset against Pittsburgh in a series they had no business winning, we'll have to temper our enthusiasm for Carolina. However, a second fluky result is unlikely - we have to rely on well-thought-out valuations.

Pick: Hurricanes -1.5 games (+100)

Game 1: Hurricanes moneyline (-165)

Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.

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Hurricanes-Rangers series preview: Betting by the numbers
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