Panthers vs. Rangers: Betting Picks and Prediction for Game 1

Scott Edwards Jr.
Scott Edwards Jr.@ScottEdwardsJr
Panthers vs. Rangers: Betting Picks and Prediction for Game 1

The Eastern Conference Finals kick off tonight with Game 1, and it's going to be a battle to get to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Whether it's moneylines or totals, there are plenty of ways to bet on the NHL action all season. It's a long 82-game campaign, meaning that the best selections of each night can be very different based on backup goalies coming into play, injuries that add up, and if teams are due for positive or negative swings.

Let's dive into the best bets for tonight.

Note: Lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. All NHL betting odds and totals are from the NHL odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. All advanced statistics are used from MoneyPuck.com and NaturalStatTrick.com.

NHL Best Bets

Florida Panthers at New York Rangers

Under 5.5 Goals (-110)

When it comes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it doesn't get much better than this series between the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers.

When betting on two teams that are so dominant, it's best to lean on the under -- especially with who these two teams have in net. Sergei Bobrovsky and Igor Shesterkin are going to play a major part in which team heads to the final.

Bobrovsky arguably had the two best games of his playoff run in the final two games against the Boston Bruins, bringing him to a 2.37 goals against average (GAA) and .902 save percentage (SV%) in these playoffs. He's also second out of the four remaining netminders with 4.38 goals saved above expectation (GSAx).

Shesterkin, of course, has been at the highest level through these playoffs -- as showcased in the series against the Carolina Hurricanes. Through his 10 starts, he's returned to his Vezina Trophy play with a 2.40 GAA and .923 SV%. The 28-year-old has put together a 9.09 GSAx, as well, the best by a considerable amount among the remaining goaltenders.

Each of these teams have been scoring well throughout the playoffs, but things should change when two teams of this caliber collide -- especially after a few days of rest. It's the Panthers' physicality against the Rangers' finesse that'll even the playing field.

Florida ranks first in the playoffs with 3.63 expected goals for per 60 minutes (xGF/60) but averaged only 3.17 goals for per 60 minutes (GF/60) in the last round. New York averaged 3.08 GF/60 against the Hurricanes -- pretty much right in line with their 3.00 xGF/60 in that series. Notable numbers, especially with their goals against per 60 minutes (GA/60) averages.

The Panthers have held their opponents to 2.44 GA/60 throughout the playoffs while the Rangers have permitted 2.48 GA/60, citing the defensive and goalie efforts of both squads.

It's going to be a fight to earn that first win tonight, and I expect a low-scoring series from start to finish.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.