Free Picks: Hurricanes vs Predators, 2021 Stanley Cup Round 1

Patrick Trudeau
Patrick Trudeau
NHL Free Picks – Best Bets of the Week
Nashville Predators vs Carolina Hurricanes NHL Stanley Cup 2021 Round 1
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Nashville Predators, Round 1, Hurricanes wins series, 4-2

Carolina were the favorites entering this series and eliminated Nashville in 6 games. It was a back-and-forth series that saw the Hurricanes get the best of the Predators.

Series Results: Hurricanes wins series, 4-2

It took 6 games, but the Carolina Hurricanes were able to outlast the Nashville Predators, 4-2.

This series saw multiple games go to consecutive OTs, as well as the home team having a true advantage. However, Nashville were unable to keep the streak of wins at home alive after losing to Carolina at Bridgestone Arena.

Carolina squandered a 2-0 series lead, allowing Nashville to tie the series at home. But it would the Hurricanes securing the final laugh with two wins to book their ticket into the next round.

Now, the Hurricanes turn their attention to the defending Stanley Cup champions as they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Game 1

May 17, 8:00 p.m., PNC Arena

Can Carolina shake their previous demons?

After bowing out in the first-round last season, the Carolina Hurricanes look to make an impact this season.

The number one seed in the Central Division, the Hurricanes battle Nashville in the opening round of the playoffs. Head-to-head, Carolina dropped Nashville in 6 of 8 meetings this season, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Hurricanes are heavy favorites to win the series at -240 (10Bet).

Entering game 1, the Hurricanes have a huge advantage in several categories. Carolina has more depth than the Predators and I think Carolina is also stronger on offense.

Toe-to-toe, Nashville, and Carolina are on the same level defensively, which makes this BetPicks prediction interesting. The Hurricanes are loaded on offense, but if they get shut down all Nashville will need is a single goal to steal a game.

Flipping over to goaltending, Juuse Saros is the number 1 in Nashville and tallied a .945 save percentage at 5-on-5, which was the best among goalies with at least 15 starts.

Carolina should start Petr Mrazek in this series, but rookie Alex Nedeljkovic has turned heads this season. He also most recently started against Nashville on the 8th of May, which resulted in a loss.

Mrazek has dealt with injuries this season, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t get the nod.

Overall, I think Nashville can take a game or two from Carolina. Their defense and goaltending will be enough to win some games, but Carolina will be able to wear down the Predators.  Carolina is a popular selection among Stanley Cup picks, and it’s easy to see why.

The Hurricanes rank highly in offensive categories and I love their depth. The Predators won’t roll over easily, but I don’t think they have enough in the tank for a long playoff run.

Goaltending can take you far, but I don’t see Nashville having enough offense to compete with Carolina.


Game 2 (Hurricanes leads 1-0)

MAY 19, 8:00 p.m., PNC Arena

Are the Predators outmatched?

 It was only one game, but the Hurricanes dominated Nashville to open their best-of-7 series. If I am a Nashville fan, I am worried about the future.

Carolina’s offense was overpowered and I think that will be a huge story to follow in this series. For this BetPicks prediction, I want to take a look at how efficient the Hurricanes were.

The Hurricanes potted 4 goals on 37 shots. Their 5th and final goal came via the empty net. Overall, Juuse Saros wasn’t terrible, but it’s clear that if the Hurricanes maintain this pressure it’s going to be a long series for the Predators.

Taking the Hurricanes straight up will be your best NHL bet for this game. The Hurricanes are obviously favorites at -120 (888Sport) but I think the Predators are outmatched.

With that being said, I think the Predators won’t go down in a sweep. Saros is good enough to steal a victory, but I imagine that will come at home. With game 2 still in Carolina, I don’t see the Predators tying the series Wednesday night.

Another wager I would look at is taking the Hurricanes’ first-period result. You could also take the Moneyline, but I love the value of correctly choosing the Hurricanes to win the period, without there being a draw or seeing the Predators win at the end of the frame. Carolina is listed at +135 for the first-period result, which offers better odds than taking them on the first-period Moneyline.

Circling back to the game, I think Nashville will eventually win a game, but they need to prove to themselves and the Hurricanes that they can skate with Carolina. Depth is a huge factor and I don’t think the Preds are deep enough to take game 2.

Unless something drastic happens Wednesday, I fully expect to see Carolina up 2-0 over the Predators.


Game 3 (Hurricanes lead 2-0)

May 21, 7:00 p.m., Bridgestone Arena

Nashville returns home, thankfully.

Hockey fans alike knew the challenge Nashville faced taking on one of the best teams in the NHL. The Hurricanes are a popular pick for Stanley Cup odds and have flexed their muscles over the first two games in their round-one matchup.

As the series heads back to Bridgestone Arena, the Predators will do everything in their power to not go down 3-0 to the Hurricanes.

Offensively, Nashville has not answered the test that is Carolina’s defense. In the regular season, the Predators tallied 156 goals, which was good for 20th in the league. In the opening round of the postseason, the Predators have mustered just 2 goals in as many games. Nashville has generated scoring chances but have been denied for the majority of the playoffs.

For this BetPicks Prediction, I think looking at the over in total goals will be beneficial as a bettor. The Hurricanes are doing the heavy lifting on offense already, which has me thinking Nashville and Carolina won’t struggle to rack up the goals. The total goals is listed at 4.5 -188 (888Sport) and I believe that will be your best NHL bet for this game.

As for the straight-up winner, I have no reason to believe Carolina won’t walk away from Game 3 a win away from the second round.

The Hurricanes haven’t been tested much, but when their backs are against the wall, Carolina has answered. As I said before, Saros can steal games for Nashville. Saros has a respectable .910 SV% in the postseason so far, stopping 61 of 67 shots. If he plays to expected potential and the Predators tally some offense, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Predators take a win from Carolina.

With that being said, the Hurricanes have been on another level against Nashville. This was expected, but it’s tough being a Preds fan right now.

I think rolling with Carolina makes sense. I can’t give up on the Storm Surge now.


Game 4 (Hurricanes lead 3-0)

May 23, 02:30 p.m., Bridgestone Arena

Nashville did their job.

Although they were down 2-0 to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Preds knew they still had games in front of their hometown crowd to play. The series outlook has drastically changed as the Predators took down Carolina in game 3.

Game 4 is the most important game of the series thus far. Nashville can even up the series or Carolina could have a stranglehold on Nashville as they return home for Game 5.

For this BetPicks prediction, I would take a look at the total goals. This series has been high-scoring and I expect that trend to continue. I’ll admit that the marker of 5.5 (+100, 10Bet) is kind of high, but what makes me confident is that the Predators are finding consistency in scoring.

Nashville was blanked in Game 2, but potted 5 in game 3. Game 1 saw Nashville score 2 goals in the loss, so Nashville can score on one of the best defenses in the game.

I am not worried about Carolina’s offense. They have shown up every time, as they should.

In terms of the Moneyline, Carolina are the favorites at –140 (10Bet). I think Carolina will buckle down and put Nashville on the ropes. I think the biggest difference-maker in this series will be Carolina’s depth on offense.

Nashville isn’t a one-trick pony by any means, but you can go up and down the Hurricanes’ lineup and see several pure goal scorers.

I expect Carolina to return home up 3-1 in the series with a chance to end the series on Tuesday.


Game 5 (series ties 2-2)

May 25, 08:00 p.m., PNC Arena

After taking two straight victories against the Predators, Nashville returned the favor at home.

Entering game 5, the series is now tied and becomes a best-of-three to reach the second round of the playoffs.

Home ice advantage has played a pivotal role in the NHL playoffs thus far and has impacted Stanley Cup odds. With American teams playing in front of a crowd, home-ice advantage is definitely back.

The Hurricanes are back at PNC Arena with a chance to go up 3-2 on the Predators. Carolina recently won their past two playoff games at home and finished the regular season with a home record of 20-3-5.

So, what led us to a tied series? Nashville found a way to secure Ws in back-to-back games, which happened to reach 2 OTs in each of Nashville’s victories.

I still love the pressure that Carolina is sending towards the Nashville goal. While the shot totals may be inflated due to overtime games, the Hurricanes are heavily outshooting Nashville this series.

For these NHL expert picks, I think taking the over 1.5 (1st Period) +105 (10Bet) will be your best NHL bet. Nashville and Carolina are coming in hot on offense and I think that trend continues. Neither goalie has been spectacular, although they have done a tremendous job considering the extra effort needed during overtime.

But Saros nor Nedeljkovic have stolen a game this series, so I am confident that we see at least two goals in the opening frame.

Carolina is the favorite at –185 (10Bet), which is interesting considering how Nashville stormed back. If you are a fan of Nashville’s play and ability to sneak out victories, taking them as the underdog (+155) is definitely a possibility.

For me, I have to stick with Carolina. Nashville’s only two wins of the series came in the extra frame when anything can happen. Until they prove what they can do in regulation, I think we stay with the Hurricanes.



Game 6 (Hurricanes leads series 3-2)

May 27, 09:30 p.m., Bridgestone Arena

Home Ice has its perks.

The Predators and Hurricanes are entering game 6, which could potentially end the series if Carolina takes down Nashville.

But in the first round of these NHL playoffs, the home team has walked away the winner. Carolina is 3-0 at PNC Arena and the Predators are 2-0 at Bridgestone Arena.

With game 6 being played in front of the Predators’ faithful, will that trend continue?

For this BetPicks Prediction, I think looking at the Total Goals makes the most sense. I love goals and believe Thursday night will be another high-scoring game between Carolina and Nashville.

The over/under is currently listed at 4.5 (-188, 888Sport) and seeing that number, I am smashing the line all day. This series, 4 of the 5 games have seen 5 or more goals, so I am very confident in this wager.

As for the winner straight up, I think we take the Hurricanes to close this out. Arguably, Carolina outplayed Nashville over the past three-games. Of course, that’s hard to debate, but the Predators are not in this position if it weren’t for timely saves from Saros or a specific bounce.

Nashville has certainly made this a series, but I think the Predators send their fans home unhappy.

They escaped two-straight games at home in OT, which changed the series. But how many times can the Predators rely on the extra frame to close out hockey games?


have always wanted to be a writer and sports are my favorite thing in the world, so I combined the two to make a career. I have been a long-time gambler and sports betting writer that isn't afraid to look at the underdog or specials. I am covering the NHL, MLB and NCAA Football for and am a huge fan of both sports - as well as many others. Follow me on Twitter (@Patrick_Trudeau) so we can talk betting, sports, or why ketchup DOES belong on Poutine.