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Martin Necas will be a key factor in the series as we make our Hurricanes-Panthers Eastern Conference Final picks.
Martin Necas of the Carolina Hurricanes scores a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers in the third period at the Wells Fargo Center on October 29, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Mitchell Leff via Getty Images via AFP.

The Florida Panthers visit the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final on Thursday, and Sportsbook Review betting analyst Neil Parker has crunched the numbers and shares his thoughts and top picks for the series based on the NHL odds from our best live betting sites.

And then there were four.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs Conference Final are here, and the Panthers are looking to pull off a third consecutive upset, this time against the Metropolitan Division champion Hurricanes.

Here's a quick peek behind the curtain at some of the five-on-five statistics I value when breaking down a playoff series, and my thoughts and picks for the Eastern Conference Final between the Hurricanes and Panthers.

Check out our Stanley Cup odds.

Hurricanes vs. Panthers Eastern Conference Final preview

Hurricanes five-on-five statistical breakdown

Corsi For percentageAdjusted CF%Goals for percentageExpected goals for percentageAdjusted xGF%Team shooting percentageTeam save percentagePDO
Regular season59.961.555.557.560.69.2.902.993
Entire postseason53.654.156.352.352.28.9.9181.007
Round 153.353.947.652.352.65.8.922.980
Round 254.054.463.052.451.913.2.9131.045

First and foremost, Carolina has received improved goaltending through the first two rounds. The improved shooting percentage following a tough-luck Round 1 against the New York Islanders also stands out. The difference in shooting percentage across the two series showcases that water usually doesn’t take too long to find its level.

The dips in the metrics adjusted for score and venue shouldn’t be surprising, and I only include those numbers here to ensure there isn’t anything way out of whack statistically due to a small sample.

Panthers five-on-five statistical breakdown

Corsi For percentageAdjusted CF%Goals for percentageExpected goals for percentageAdjusted xGF%Team shooting percentageTeam save percentagePDO
Regular season54.354.754.653.753.98.5.9181.003
Entire postseason48.949.154.448.548.98.4.9351.018
Round 147.847.053.650.350.08.8.9301.017
Round 250.451.855.646.

There are two glaring concerns for the Panthers, and one is obvious. Florida isn’t going to maintain a team save percentage of .935. Also, there's statistical correction ahead for netminder Sergei Bobrovsky and his .940 mark at five-on-five.

The second eye-catcher for me was the gap in goals for percentage and expected goals for percentage in Round 2. That’s the by-product of elite goaltending. But again, those metrics usually level out in short order. 

Check out our Stars-Golden Knights Western Conference Final series preview.

Hurricanes vs. Panthers Eastern Conference Final picks

Hurricanes vs. Panthers lean

Series winner: Hurricanes (-135 via DraftKings, Caesars) ⭐⭐

This is a lean because I actually expected to land on the Florida side before the numbers steered me in the opposite direction. Carolina is now penciled in with a 53.9% chance of advancing to the Stanley Cup Final, and that doesn’t result in a noticeable edge in the odds for either team.

-135-145 ❄️-139-135-140

Hurricanes vs. Panthers pick

Most shots on goal: Carter Verhaeghe vs. Seth Jarvis (-115 via DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Verhaeghe boasts a higher shot volume during the postseason, and his regular-season numbers were significantly above Jarvis’ shot metrics. 

Additionally, I value that there's been a slight dip in Verhaeghe's shots and attempts per 60 minutes during the playoffs, while Jarvis’ numbers have almost remained identical. I’m anticipating an uptick in shot volume from the Florida winger in Round 3.

PlayerPostseason shots per 60Postseason attempts per 60Postseason shots per gamePostseason attempts per gameRegular season shots per 60Regular season attempts per 60Regular season shots per gameRegular season attempts per game

Hurricanes vs. Panthers fun pick

Conn Smythe Trophy winner: Brent Burns (+2200 via DraftKings, BetMGM, PointsBet) ⭐⭐

There are at least two Hurricanes with shorter Conn Smythe Trophy odds than Burns across each of our best NHL betting sites, but it’s hard to ignore the impact he’s been making during his first season in Carolina.

Burns is logging a team-high 23:55 of ice time per game while skating in all situations. His eight postseason points (including two goals) are tied for second on the club, and the veteran's 56.6 Corsi For percentage at five-on-five tops Carolina's blueliners.

The beard game is also on point.

+2200+1700 ❄️+2200+2000+2200

Check out our Conn Smythe Trophy odds.

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