Free Picks: Carolina Hurricanes vs Florida Panthers

Carolina vs Florida NHL
Carolina Hurricanes vs Florida Panthers, NHL, PNC Arena

The best sports bet for today is the Carolina Panthers over the Florida Panthers. The Hurricanes lead the season series 2-1, but all games have been close. The Panthers won the first meeting, but the Hurricanes have won the final two with a shootout victory and then an overtime win on March 1. Can any two teams get any closer?

Edge goes to Carolina

When I go about making my NHL picks, I look at a few things, and one of them is offense. And Carolina has the better offense. Carolina is ranked fifth in the league with an average of 3.35 goals scored per game. Florida is not quite as strong offensively. They are 7th at 3.23 (goals scored per game). But Carolina is also better at preventing goals.  They rank 11th, having allowed an average of 2.70 goals a game, while Florida is ranked 13th at 2.81 goals allowed per game. Those differences are slight, but if I’m betting this game, these are really good indicators to support the overall strength of Carolina.

In goal, I like the fact that Carolina’s James Reimer has a .902 save percentage and back-up Peter Mrasek sits at .955, including two shutouts. I think they have proven to be a more reliable goaltending duo than the Florida pair of Sergei Bobrovsky (.897 save percentage) and Chris Driedger (.926).

I’m also a big believer in going with the team that has the hottest shooter when I’m making my NHL predictions. That’s why this game seems like such a toss-up. On the one hand, you have Vincent Trocheck of the Hurricanes, who has fired in three goals in his last five games. And then you look at Florida’s Frank Vatrano, and he’s got three goals in five games too. Vatrano has eight goals on the season, while Trocheck has 12. For that reason, I think the consistency of Trocheck and the Hurricanes is too good to ignore.

When you’re looking at the moneyline, I would consider betting in favor of the Hurricanes. Another factor is that Florida won’t be as well rested, having played Saturday against Nashville. Home records usually account for a lot. But not here. Carolina’s great 7-1-1 home record might be enhanced because fans have returned to PNC Arena for the first time in over a calendar year. And I’m a big fan of Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour, who always seems to get the most out of his team. Take Carolina (-139) with 888Sport.

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  • Hurricanes are 4-0 in their last four games.
  • Panthers are 2-7 in their last 9 meetings.
  • Carolina is 12-7 straight up.
  • Florida is 13-8 straight up (as of March 5).

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I live in the land of ice and snow in Toronto, Canada's largest city. I can't skate very well, but I know sports, especially hockey, after a long career writing about the Toronto Maple Leafs and other teams at the country's largest newspaper, the Toronto Star. Betting on sports can be a rewarding experience when you understand the trends and underlying characteristics of the teams and players before laying down a bet. That's how I hope to point you in the right direction.