NHL Playoffs - Game 1
New Jersey +106 over Carolina

Posted at 1:00 PM EST. Odds subject to change.

Pinnacle  +106 BET365 +100 Sportsinteraction +102 888Sport +100

New Jersey +106 over Carolina

7:10 PM EST. OT Included. The Hurricanes are a tremendous puck-possession team that has been dominating the regular season for a few years now. During the regular season, Carolina led the NHL in time of possession in the offensive end during five-on-five play, yet they barely got by the Islanders in the first round of the playoffs. Furthermore, the Hurricanes went a mere 13-12 in their final 25 games. They had two outstanding stretches during the year in which they went 15-1 during one stretch from late November to late December and another great stretch from January 19th until Feb 24th where they went 12-1. However, Carolina also had two rough stretches where they lost 9 out of 11 during one stretch and the aforementioned stretch drive where they were losing a lot of games to some weak competition like Nashville, Detroit, Anaheim and Vancouver for instance. What ails the Hurricanes is what ailed many teams that missed the playoffs ?? goaltending.

Carolina has been a playoff failure for three years now by failing to get out of the second round in each year. They missed the playoffs in 2018 but have made the playoffs every year since but have only compiled a 51% win percentage in the playoffs over that time because their goaltending is weak. You cannot make a deep run in the playoffs with average or weak goaltending and the Hurricanes are living proof of that. Edmonton will be living proof of that too at some point during these playoffs. Calgary, Buffalo, Ottawa and St. Louis are four teams that missed the playoffs because of weak goaltending. Florida, an outstanding team that won the President’s trophy last year and is better this year, barely got in because of it. The Hurricanes did not address their goaltending woes in any of the past three seasons in which they failed to get past the second round so why would we trust them to advance past this round this year? You’ve probably read somewhere that, “insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. Not only is Carolina the second best team in this matchup, its goaltending is suspect on its best day. If the Islanders gave this team big trouble, the Devils should dispose of them quickly and probably will.

“We want more”. Those words came from Devils captain Nico Hischier in the immediate aftermath of his team’s 4-0 rout of the Rangers in Game 7 of their first-round playoff series Monday night at Prudential Center. If you watched that series after New Jersey switched goaltenders heading into Game 3 then you’re aware of how great their rookie goaltender was and how stifling and talented the Devils are.

Ask any NHL team still standing in these Stanley Cup playoffs which remaining team it would least want to face, and chances are the answer is the Devils. The Devils are dangerous, because they’re skilled, young, fast and fearless. They are gaining more confidence by the shift in these playoffs and the Devils also have discovered the almighty Stanley Cup playoffs elixir: the hot goaltender.

Akira Schmid, the 22-year-old rookie netminder from Switzerland who was playing minor league hockey earlier this season, is 4-1 with a 1.38 goals-against average and a .951 save percentage since he was inserted in favor of starter Vitek Vanecek after the Devils went down 0-2 to the Rangers.

“Stone-cold ‘Schmido,’ he stood tall,’’ Devils winger Tomas Tatar said.“He’s a big part of why we won the series,’’ fellow winger Ondrej Palat said.

“The biggest thing was ‘Schmido’ — he came in and played unreal, he was a brick wall for us,’’ Devils star center Jack Hughes said.

“You envision things, but you don’t ever really envision what he did,’’ Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “He played a heck of a game; he had a heck of a series.’’

Ruff made a heck of a decision to bench his starter for a goalie who was playing in Utica for the franchise’s farm team earlier this season and had never been in a playoff game. That decision, which felt like a desperate last-call, phone-a-friend move in the moment on the part of Ruff, changed the series, and perhaps the entire postseason for the Devils. This is now a different Devils team than the one that played Carolina in the regular season. This is a highly confident team with a hot goaltender that just held the juggernaut Rangers’ offense to two lousy goals in New Jersey's four victories. Of the 16 teams that started the playoffs, New Jersey is ranked first in xGF and first by a wide margin in High Danger Scoring Chances.

Oddsmakers have the Devils favored in this series and rightfully so but here in Game 1 and probably Game 2, the Devils are a small underdog, which makes them highly playable. We’ll be playing the Devils as often as we can and it begins here. You should too.


Our Pick

New Jersey +106 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.12)

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