The Carolina Hurricanes have been fairly dominant for most of the season and are deserved Central Division champions. They have a chance to take the lead in the race for the President’s Trophy in Monday’s season finale as they travel to face the Nashville Predators. Nashville has a 11-6-1 record since April 1 to help solidify the final playoff spot in the Central Division, but had failed to upend the division’s top team until Saturday when the Predators won 3-1 at home.
Predators vs. Hurricanes: Free Picks, Odds & Predictions
I was kind of surprised to see such long odds on Nashville’s leading goal scorer to score a goal Monday. Calle Jarnkrok might only have 13 goals this season, but I felt he was undervalued by the NHL betting sites in New Jersey when they posted +285 odds on him to score. Jarnkrok has scored a point in seven of his last nine games, so he’s been creating offense for the Predators over the past few weeks, and he has scored twice in that span. In a game where the lineups could be significantly altered without much to play for, I’ll bet on the forward on a hot streak to keep his good form rolling in the season finale.
Nashville is among the worst offensive teams in the NHL and the Predators lack high-end scoring talent. However, they are also playing a team in Carolina that has little to play for and has scored one goal in each of its last two games. These two teams will meet in the playoffs when they get started next week, so I don’t expect either team to show much in this season finale. This will be more about staying healthy and keeping everyone safe rather than the final result, so I’ll bet on a low-scoring contest. Luckily, the hockey betting sites in New Jersey are offering valuable +245 odds on the game featuring four or fewer goals.
Trying to pick a winner in this game is difficult. Carolina won six of the first seven games between these teams, but Nashville defended home ice Saturday for that one victory. Neither team has much to play for and health is far more important for a team like Carolina that has Stanley Cup aspirations than Nashville, the plucky underdogs who took advantage of this unique season. In a game like this that doesn’t matter, I tend to side with the home team, especially when they’re the team with less pressure. Therefore, I’ll jump on the +185 odds from the legal sports betting sites in New Jersey that Nashville gets the job done in 60 minutes.
Head to Head
This is the eighth meeting this season between Nashville and Carolina, and the Predators earned their first win of the year over the Hurricanes on Saturday in a dominant effort.
- The Hurricanes are atop the NHL in points for very good reason as they rank among the league best in most basic statistics. Carolina is allowing just 2.35 goals per game, third-fewest in the NHL, and it ranks second on the power play and third on the penalty kill. A big reason for the defensive success is their goaltending tandem, which has led the Hurricanes to a team save percentage of .917, the second best in the league.
- Nashville has some of the worst special teams in the NHL, and clearly ranks at the bottom of all playoff teams. The Predators have the third-worst penalty kill in the league with a 74.9 percent success rate while a man down. Nashville also ranks seventh worst on the power play, scoring on just 17.4 percent of its chances while up a player. The Predators have scored just two power-play goals in their last 37 chances on the man advantage and allowed eight on 39 shorthanded chances over that same 15-game span.
- Roman Josi leads the Predators with 33 points, one of just two players to exceed 30 points this season. Nashville’s leading goal scorers are Mikael Granlund and Calle Jarnkrok, who have just 13 goals this season. Nashville has just five players with double-digit goals and assists, and Jarnkrok is the only player in the top-four in scoring who has a positive plus/minus rating.
- Sebastian Aho hasn’t scored in the last two games, but that came after an epic 16-game run for the Hurricanes. Carolina’s leading scorer with 24 goals and 57 points, Aho scored 24 points in those 16 games, which included seven games with multiple points. He was scoring in all situations as well for Carolina with four even-strength goals, three goals on the power play and a pair of shorthanded tallies during that stretch.
Our Prediction for Nashville vs. Carolina
Nashville Predators to win
The Carolina Hurricanes have wrapped up home ice throughout the Central Division playoffs, and I don’t see pushing their luck with injuries in the season finale. I expect Carolina will use its taxi squad to give some stars a rest before facing the Nashville Predators in the postseason. Nashville might also try to rest some key players, but I think the Predators are more likely to try to keep the positive momentum rolling into the postseason than play it safe. It won’t be a pretty game, but I’ll pick the home team to get the job done.
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Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper