Rangers vs. Hurricanes odds, prediction: Trust Carolina’s explosive offense

The New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes will continue their battle for the Metropolitan Division on Tuesday night. Oddsmakers have made the Rangers -120 favorites for the encounter, with the Hurricanes coming back as +100 underdogs. If Carolina defeats the Rangers, the Canes will clinch the division and ensure themselves home-ice advantage in the first two rounds of the postseason. 

When these two teams met at MSG two weeks ago, it was Carolina that closed as the slight -120 favorite, but the Hurricanes had Frederik Andersen starting in goal for that game. Andersen has since been injured, so it will either be Antti Raanta or rookie Pyotr Kochetkov in net for the Canes on Tuesday night. 

Carolina has gone 7-3 in its last 10 games and is averaging nearly 23 more shot attempts and five more high-danger scoring chances at 5-on-5 compared to its opponents. Only the Bruins boast a better expected goals rate than the Hurricanes over that span.

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New York’s 5-on-5 numbers over its last 10 games are decent, but the Rangers have played a very defensive style at even strength as the season’s gone on. Rather than try to outscore teams, the Blueshirts have opted for a more pragmatic approach, relying on defensive structure to keep games tight and then betting on their high-skill players to be the difference in close contests.

New York ranks 26th in the NHL in creating high-danger scoring chances at 5-on-5 over its last 10 games, but the Rangers are still creating more than they’re conceding, which is a testament to just how much they’ve tightened up in their own zone.

Igor Shesterkin blocks a shot.
Igor Shesterkin blocks a shot for the New York Rangers.
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

That said, the Hurricanes should provide a much stiffer test than what the Rangers have been seeing over the past month or so. Since the Trade Deadline, the Rangers have gone 11-4-1, but only five of those contests have featured playoff-bound opponents. In those games, the Rangers have skated to a 3-2 record, with all three of the wins coming against the Penguins, who were playing without Sidney Crosby on one occasion and without Evgeni Malkin in another. 

Additionally, the way the Rangers have been playing puts a lot of pressure on the goaltender and the power play to prove to be the difference in these coin flips. And while Igor Shesterkin — should he start — will easily be the A-side in this goaltending matchup, the Rangers No. 3 ranked power play could find it tough sledding against the league’s best penalty kill. 

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With the special teams battle basically a wash, bettors can put more emphasis on 5-on-5 play and in that regard, Carolina should stand out. The Canes have skated to the fifth-best expected goals rate on the season and only Florida has created more high-danger scoring chances than Carolina at 5-on-5 this season. The Rangers defense may be a strength, but they’re going up against one of the league’s deepest attacks on Tuesday night.

Betting against Igor Shesterkin is nobody’s idea of a fun time and he could very well prove to be the difference in a tight contest, but getting Carolina as an underdog in a matchup that should suit them is worth the risk.

The Bet: Carolina Hurricanes -105 or better

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