Two division leaders facing each other
We have a battle of the big boys with the Metropolitan Division’s number two team, the 12-2-0 Carolina Hurricanes traveling to Anaheim, California to face the Pacific Division’s leader, the 10-4-3 Ducks.
Anaheim is on a ridiculous 8-game win streak behind goalie John Gibson, who has given up 2 or fewer goals in 6 of the last 7 games of the team. We have signs of regression for Anaheim and the Hurricanes seem unstoppable behind Freddie Anderson, so it is clear that the road team has to be favored, but is the current market line correct? Let’s find out!
The Canes are one of the most aggressive teams in the league and based on their current record and goal differential we can safely say it works out for them. Of course, you will need a generational goalie like Frederik Anderson if you play such a high pace, but it looks like this team is set for success.
The Hurricanes are putting up 63 shots on average per game and only allowing 49 on the defensive end. Carolina had an already impressive +10 shot differential last season, but their current +14 leads the league.
The Hurricanes averaging exactly 3 goals per 60 minutes, while only allowing just 1.65 per game. Our model tells us that Carolina is outperforming their expected goals profile by a full goal on the defensive end. Of course, it is fair to expect some regression, but Frederik Andersen has been flat-out amazing this season. Carolina’s netminder has a 95.50 fSV% this year saving above 10 goals over expected and amassing 1.80 WAR just a few weeks into the season. Carolina also faced a relatively tough early schedule, so despite us expecting some regression, we feel that this team is probably for real.
We are grading Carolina’s offense the third-best in the league and their defense the 16th-best, but having a top-five goalie will help you iron out the defensive shortcomings.
How are the Ducks this good?
Our model grades Anaheim’s offense the 28th-best in the league and their defense also the 28th-best in the NHL. How are the Ducks leading their division, if they aren’t supposed to be good at all? Luck has been favoring the Ducks a lot.
Anaheim is still getting outshot by 2.46 shots per game on average and the Ducks are outperforming both their expected goals scored and their expected goals allowed numbers. All this has to be combined with the fact that the home team faced a pretty easy early schedule. We can say that fans of this team are likely in for a rough ride as we get deeper into the season, as the Ducks will not keep winning games at this current rate.
Trends are liking Carolina
The Hurricanes faced a tougher schedule than Anaheim and they have been performing also a bit better in more difficult matchups. The Hurricanes are 7-0 as a road favorite and 11-1 as a big favorite overall. They are also 5-0 against teams with a winning record. We also need to mention that the Ducks are only 7-6 as underdogs as they have been mostly winning their games against the weakest teams in the league where they were favorites.
Pick: Carolina Hurricanes to win -150 (1.67x) Bet365
We are going with Carolina on Thursday as a reasonably confident pick. The market is still giving the Ducks too much respect and there is value coming in against a team that has a better record than it truly should have.
Note: Our model makes Carolina -160 (1.63x), and we would bet Carolina at –155 (1.65x) or better.