Skip to content

Panthers-Hurricanes series preview: Betting by the numbers

Eliot J. Schechter / National Hockey League / Getty

Just when you thought excitement for "Carolina" and "Panthers" hit its high point with the first pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, Raleigh's Hurricanes take on Florida's cats for a spot in the Stanley Cup Final.

Carolina has taken a bite out of our account by knocking off the Islanders and Devils, but the Panthers have more than made up for it with a playoff run that we saw some early signs of, leaving us less surprised than we were when their nickname-sake traded up to grab Bryce Young.

Series odds

Panthers +120 +115 +1.5 (-170)
Hurricanes -140 -135 -1.5 (+130)

Oddsmakers think both teams have a better chance of winning this series than they did in the last round. While the Panthers remain underdogs - albeit at shorter and shorter prices, it's easy to forget that Carolina was actually the smallest of underdogs before the puck dropped against the Devils.


Using primarily even-strength metrics to evaluate a team's quality, we've established how a team rates relative to an average NHL team. We use these ratings to create an implied win probability split in each game, which we then translate to a fair moneyline price for each before home-ice advantage is applied and the sportsbook takes its vig on a bet. Here's how these teams rated over the season, when isolating play after the All-Star break, and in their first-round matchup (relative to their opponent).

Panthers +17% +16% +27.8% +7.2%
Hurricanes +30% +20% -2% 27.9%

Unsurprisingly, the Hurricanes had a better rating during the regular season - commensurate with winning a highly competitive Metropolitan division. The Panthers graded out far better than mainstream hockey media was giving them credit for, which is why we've been able to find value on Florida in the first two rounds.

Perhaps more interesting is that both teams have managed to win a round without playing their best. The Hurricanes weren't convincingly better than a very average Isles team in Round 1, while the Panthers had just one game (Game 3) where they outpaced the Maple Leafs at even strength.

Advanced metrics at even strength (regular season)

xG%= Expected goals share
HDC%= High-danger chance share
HDCV%= High-danger chance conversion rate
OPP. HDCV%= Opponents' high-danger chance conversion rate

Panthers 52.8 53.4 12.3 10.1
Hurricanes 58.5 58.0 10.9 11.5

*Average NHL HDCV% = ~12.5%

The Hurricanes spent the season dominating teams at even strength with the type of consistency that accumulates wins and points toward the standings. The Panthers did well to take advantage of their high-danger chances, and their goaltending was good at making big saves but gifted soft goals to their opponents.

Goaltending matchup (goals saved above expected/60 minutes)

Sergei Bobrovsky 0.06 0.89
Frederik Andersen 0.08 0.98

"Beware of the hot goalie," they say. Each team's current starter went from very average in the regular season to Vezina-caliber in the playoffs. Of course, neither Sergei Bobrovsky nor Frederik Andersen has started every one of his team's games. Bobrovsky took over starting duties in Game 4 of the first round and has gone 7-2. Andersen has started the last six games for Carolina, losing just once.

How each netminder performs - as this small sample size increases another two weeks - will help decide which team reaches the Stanley Cup Final. Unfortunately, that's just as unpredictable now as it was when the playoffs started with Alex Lyon and Antti Raanta getting the first crack in the crease.

Special teams (regular season)

Panthers 22.8 76.0 98.8
Hurricanes 19.8 84.4 104.2

After losing seven total goals in special teams situations in the first round, the Panthers managed to hold off the Leafs' vaunted power play to gain a one-goal overall edge. The Hurricanes' special teams results have been wildly skewed thanks to three shorthanded goals in an 8-4 loss, and their 18.9% power-play efficiency mirrors their regular season. Even with the Canes' low conversion rate, the Panthers will need to keep increasing a 65.8% postseason kill.

Moneyline betting guide

If you followed our NHL betting guide where we projected moneylines for each game, allowing us to compare and contrast our price to bet with what's available on a daily basis, you may be interested in what prices would be considered valuable for each team when they're on the road, at home, and for the series as a whole.

Price to bet

Panthers 48.4% +142 -102 +141
Hurricanes 51.6% -116 +124 -115

In the Panthers-Leafs preview, we said Florida could easily be favored in that series, and many probably scoffed. How does that statement look now?

Well, if it was fun to be right about that, it's equally boring that we're not finding much pure value in the prices for various series markets. Maybe it's because the Hurricanes don't have the same attractive branding as the Bruins or Maple Leafs, or maybe the market has caught on to how dangerous Florida is, but the odds reflect newfound respect for the Panthers.

Best bets

After a predictably tight first-round series, things got looser in Carolina's games with New Jersey, while the Panthers relied on Bobrovksy to keep the goal totals down against Toronto. I'm not sure that either team's goaltender can keep up their GSAx numbers, and 5.5 might not be high enough of a total for each game.

As for the series, the Panthers at +120 is my exact fair price for them to win the series, but I'd rather go elsewhere to back Florida, knowing that I'm at least getting a fair price on their derivatives. At -170, Florida +1.5 games is that bet, as I expect a long series, and maybe the worst-case scenario is that the Panthers need a home win in Game 6 - where they'll be the favorites - to push it to a ticket-clinching seventh game.

Game 1: Over 5.5 goals (-120)
Series: Panthers +1.5 games (-170)

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

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox