NHL Playoffs Best Bets: Expert Picks and Props for Devils vs. Hurricanes Game 1

NHL Playoffs Best Bets: Expert Picks and Props for Devils vs. Hurricanes Game 1

This article is part of our NHL Picks series.

Stanley Cup Bets for May 3: Expert NHL Picks and Props for Devils vs. Hurricanes

The New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes open their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semifinals series for Game 1 on Wednesday night at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.

The Devils fell into an 0-2 hole on home ice against the New York Rangers in the Conference Quarterfinals round, and New Jersey was outscored 10-2. Head coach Lindy Ruff made the proper adjustments and New Jersey ended up winning in seven games.

Ruff benched regular-season goaltender Vitek Vanecek after two games, as he went 0-2 with a 4.43 GAA and .827 save percentage in his pair of starts. He also made a brief appearance in Game 6 at Madison Square Garden, but he didn't face a shot in relief.

Rookie Akira Schmid was tabbed for Game 3, and the 22-year-old shined in his NHL postseason debut on the road against the Rangers. He stopped 35 of 36 shots in a 2-1 OT win, and he ended up going 4-1 with a 1.38 GAA and .951 save percentage while posting two shutouts. As a result, he has nailed down the starting job heading into Round 2.

Hurricanes' head coach Rod Brind'Amour also switched backstops in Carolina's series with the New York Islanders. Antti Raanta started the first five games of the series and led the Canes to a 3-1 series lead. However, after allowing three goals on just 22 shots in Game 5, a disappointing home-ice loss in an elimination game, Brind'Amour went to Frederik Andersen for Game 6.

Andersen, making his first postseason start for the organization after he was injured for the entire playoffs last season, kicked aside 33 of the 34 shots he faced in Game 6, a 2-1 OT win on the Island.

For the Devils, winger Erik Haula, a former Hurricane, notched four goals to lead the team, while also posting a team-best six points against the Rangers. He also had two power-play goals while adding a shorthanded assist. Center Nico Hischier led the team with five assists. On the flip side, big-ticket deadline acquisition winger Timo Meier didn't record a point in the opening round, and he was knocked out of Game 7 late after a titanic hit from defenseman Jacob Trouba. As a result, Meier is questionable for Game 1.

As far as the Hurricanes are concerned, center Sebastian Aho stepped up his game, posting four goals and seven points, both team bests in the opening round. Defenseman Brent Burns had five helpers to lead the team, while winger Stefan Noesen was a surprising two power-play goals and four points on the man advantage.

There is no update on winger Teuvo Teravainen, who was knocked out of Game 2 against the Rangers due to a fractured wrist as the result of a slash. Meanwhile, center Jack Drury has returned to practice and is expected to be available for Game 1 after dealing with an upper-body injury.

While the Devils are 30-13 in the past 43 road games, and they're 4-0 in the past four in the Conference Semifinals round, New Jersey is also 1-4 in the past five trips to Raleigh, and 2-5 in the past seven meetings overall with the Canes.

The Hurricanes have won 39 of the past 54 home games, while the favorite is 6-1 in the past seven in this series, and the home team is 12-4 in the past 16 head-to-head battles.

Lean Carolina, but go lightly in the opening game.

NHL Money Line Bets for Devils vs. Hurricanes

  • Hurricanes ML (-120 at BetMGM)

Looking at the total, we're likely to have a war in Game 1, and in the entire series, really.

The Devils cashed the Under in four of the final five games against the Rangers, averaging 3.0 goals per game, while allowing one or no goals in four of the final five in the series.

For the Hurricanes, they cashed the Under in the series-clinching Game 6 win on the Island, and it cashed the Under in Game 1. In Games 2 through 5, the Over went 3-0-1, rather surprisingly.

The Under is 5-1-1 in the past seven games at PNC Arena for the Canes, while going 11-4 in the past 15 when working on three days of rest, too. The Under is 5-2 in the past seven during the Conference Semifinals round, too. Go low on the total, although it can be a little costly.

NHL Totals Bets for Devils vs. Hurricanes

  • Under 5.5 (-130 at BetRivers)

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NHL Player Props for Devils vs. Hurricanes

For NHL player props in Game 1, there are a pair of plays worth pursuing on each side of the ice.

The Devils saw Jack Hughes post three goals and five points in the best-of-seven series against the Rangers. He never had a multi-goal outing, but he was scoreless just twice. In Game 2, he was blanked, but he had seven shots on goal. He squeezed off 32 SOG in the series, averaging just shy of five per game.

The SOG prop for Hughes is set at just 3.5, and that's too low. He went for four or more SOG in four of the final six in the series. Look for him to go high.

Like Hughes, it's all about a shot prop on the Hurricanes' side, too. We cashed a couple of times with Brent Burns in the opening round, as he had five or more SOG in the final three games, and four or more SOG in five of the six outings. He is a strong play to notch at least four shots in Game 1.

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Daniel Dobish
Hockey writer, unskilled fourth liner, fantasy and gambling industry veteran, handicapper, FSWA's 2011 fantasy hockey writer of the year nominee and four-time FSWA award winner. Twitter: @danieledobish
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