NHL Playoffs Betting Preview: Boston Bruins vs. Carolina Hurricanes – Thursday, May 16, 2019
Matchup at a Glance
Where: PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC
When: Thursday, May 16th at 8:00 PM ET
Money Line: Boston Bruins-120
Game 3 in Carolina started off tight as the Hurricanes tried to claw back into the Eastern Conference Finals in Raleigh.
Unlike Games 1 and 2, Carolina had stretches that harkened back to their dominant performance in round two.
The Bruins weathered the Hurricanes' strong first-period effort, and Tuukka Rask continued to dominate the blue paint to get into the locker room scoreless.
The second period suddenly changed the game as Chris Wagner's game breaker was quickly followed by a tally by the resident irritator, Brad Marchand. Those two goals were all the Bs needed, as Rask confidently shut down Carolina, aside from a soft goal allowed late in the second period. The Bruins seemed to take the air out of the Hurricanes and their typically even-keeled captain, Justin Williams.
Williams has shown displays of frustration in the past two games and has left us wondering if the Canes have anything left to throw at Boston in this series. Game 4 stays in Raleigh and the Bruins open as -120 road favorites to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Who's In Net?
All season the Hurricanes have thrived in a two No. 1 situation in net. Both Mrazek and McElhinney put up great regular-season numbers and combined to get their squad into the playoffs on the last day of the season. Mrazek took hold of the playoff No. 1 spot after a late-season run and continued this hold on the job until Game 3.
Curtis McElhinney stepped in Tuesday and held the recently hot Bruins' offense to two middle-frame markers. Although Rod Brind' amour hasn't officially announced his Game 4 starter, all signs would point to McElhinney being in the crease with the season on the line.
Another spotlight will be pointed at the Hurricanes' captain, Justin Williams. A solid NHL veteran who has come to be known as Mr. Game 7, Williams will have to show some of that clutch gene in Game 4, or he may have played the last Game 7 of his career.
Williams and the young offensive core will look to create more traffic in front of Rask to bang home an early, ugly goal to regain the confidence that has lead to their being known as the Bunch of Jerks.
What's the Weakness?
Since Tuukka Rask has regained his All-Star form, these Bruins look like the most well-rounded squad left in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The combination of offensive firepower and lockdown defense in front of a refreshed Rask has quickly carried this team within 60 strong minutes from their first Finals appearance since 2013.
Until Game 3, Brad Marchand had been having trouble finding his offensive groove and took it upon himself to find a way to influence the games. Marchand, who is known for his in-game antics, did not disappoint.
Boston's undersized antagonist has been finding spots behind the play to land his jabs and embarrassed Justin Williams by mocking him by making the captain's C gesture after a Williams retaliation left the Hurricanes shorthanded. For this series to have any semblance of competition, the Canes have to score ugly and give the Bruins something to worry about heading back to Boston.
As Game 3 finished, it was hard to think anything other than we had just seen the last bit of competitive play in this series. The confidence and energy has been completely drained from the Eastern Conference darlings from Raleigh. Rask, Marchand, and company have picked apart the Canes from the start of their convincing 5-2 Game 1 win. Any way you analyze this series and Game 4, it's hard to find a reason to think this series has the potential to live on past Thursday night.
The harsh reality sets in early for Carolina in a 5-1 drubbing. I'll be laying it heavy on the Bruins' moneyline (-120) while also adding a healthy wager on the Bs puckline (+220). The only question left in my mind is whether Zdeno Chara decides to lift the Prince of Wales Trophy or leaves it on the table.