Fans have gone nearly five months without hockey since the NHL shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. The wait comes to an end on Saturday as the New York Rangers take on the Carolina Hurricanes in the opener of their best-of-five 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier series. The league has been paused since March 11, but is resuming with a format that gives the top 12 teams in each conference a chance to win the championship. New York, which did not occupy a playoff spot when the regular season was halted, enters the series as the 11th seed in the East, while the Hurricanes, who were the first wild card, are seeded fifth and considered the home team for Game 1.
The opening faceoff from Scotiabank Arena in Toronto is set for noon ET. Carolina is the -130 favorite on the money line in the latest Rangers vs. Hurricanes odds by William Hill, while the over-under for total goals scored is six. Before making any Hurricanes vs. Rangers picks, check out the NHL predictions from the SportsLine Projection Model.
This model simulates every NHL game 10,000 times, taking into account factors like current form, individual matchups, injuries and short- and long-term trends when making NHL picks. The model seeks the best values on the money line, puck line and total.
- Rangers vs. Hurricanes money line: New York +110, Carolina -130
- Rangers vs. Hurricanes puck line: Carolina -1.5
- Rangers vs. Hurricanes over-under: 6 goals
- NYR: The Rangers are 31-6-0 against the Hurricanes since February 2011.
- CAR: The Hurricanes are 23-9-3 in their black jerseys, which debuted in June 2018.
Why you should back the Rangers
Despite playing in only 57 games, Mika Zibanejad had the best season of his career with 41 goals and 75 points. The 27-year-old Swede ended the regular season on a six-game goal-scoring and point streaks, netting 11 tallies while notching two assists in that span. Zibanejad landed on the scoresheet in 15 of his final 16 games and didn't go more than one contest without a point after a two-game drought from Jan. 11-13.
New York also has Hart Trophy finalist Artemi Panarin, who finished tied for third in the NHL with a career-high 95 points, and will regain the services of Chris Kreider, who reached the 20-goal plateau (21) for the fifth time in six seasons before going down with a broken foot in February. The Rangers have three goaltenders who are more than capable but likely will start rookie Igor Shesterkin over Alexandar Georgiev and former Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist. The 24-year-old Shesterkin won eight of his final nine starts and finished with a 10-2-0 record and 2.52 goals-against average.
Why you should back the Hurricanes
Andrei Svechnikov avoided the dreaded sophomore slump, recording 24 goals and 61 points after notching 20 and 37 as a rookie in 2018-19. The 20-year-old Russian, who was the second overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, should benefit from the long layoff after ending the regular season with a nine-game goal-scoring drought. Svechnikov has proven he can perform on the big stage as he recorded three goals and two assists in nine games during Carolina's run to the conference final last year.
As good as Svechnikov is, the Hurricanes are led offensively by a pair of Finns in Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen. Aho led the team with 38 goals and 66 points while Teravainen finished three points behind his fellow countryman. Carolina could be without defensemen Dougie Hamilton (undisclosed) and Brett Pesce (shoulder), but the team is deep enough on the blue line to make up for the potential losses.
How to make Rangers vs. Hurricanes picks
SportsLine's model is leaning over on the total, as the simulation suggests Zibanejad and Panarin each record almost 1.5 points, and it also says one side of the money line has the value. You can only get the pick at SportsLine.
So who wins Hurricanes vs. Rangers? And which side of the money line has all the value? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Rangers vs. Hurricanes spread to jump on Saturday, all from the advanced model that has simulated this matchup 10,000 times, and find out.