The Carolina Hurricanes may be a "Bunch of Jerks", but they're backing up all those Storm Surge celebrations so far in these Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The best advice for teams hoping to keep the Canes from celebrating after each huge victory would be to beat them. According to the sportsbooks and current NHL odds, however, that's looking a little less likely than many would have anticipated.
2-0 Lead Comes with a Cost
Carolina heads home with a cozy series lead over an Islanders team that was originally expected to win the series. Just when New York appeared to be out from under the radar following a sweep of the vaunted Penguins, they're looking at an 0-2 hole heading into hostile territory.
A big chunk of the Hurricanes' success can be accredited to the play of goalie Petr Mrazek, who's playing well above expectations and helped his side win some gritty, low-scoring contests.
The fact that only three goals have been scored so far in this series should give an idea of how important solid goaltending has been.
Game 1 was a back-and-forth duel of the netminders with Jordan Staal finally getting one past Robin Lehner in overtime. Mrazek stopped all 31 shots he faced, and was off to another solid start in Game 2.
Shortly after giving up his first goal of the series, however, he faced another major scoring chance in an Isles 2-on-1. Mrazek tried to get over from right to left to save a shot attempt that was ultimately fanned on, but he came up gimpy after suffering an apparent non-contact injury.
It looked like a devastating blow for the Canes, but they instead appeared to rally behind their injured starter after backup Curtis McElhinney got settled in.
The Canes struck like lightning in the top of the third to snatch the lead back, and they held on thanks to a phenomenal relief performance from McElhinney and a few lucky pings off the crossbar.
The win was impressive for certain, but it came with a cost. And how did oddsmakers think the end result impacted the series and Stanley Cup betting?
Canes Now the Top Pick to Win the Stanley Cup
Yes, even without their starting goalie, thanks to their back-to-back victories in Brooklyn, Carolina is your brand new Stanley Cup favorite at +425
- Carolina Hurricanes: +425
- San Jose Sharks: +475
- Boston Bruins: +500
- Colorado Avalanche: +550
- Columbus Blue Jackets: +550
- St. Louis Blues: +550
- Dallas Stars: +650
- New York Islanders: +1300
Clearly these odds appear to be based primarily on the position of each of these teams in their respective second-round series. That's not unwarranted, as every game at this stage matters, however the frequency with which teams come back in these series should be remembered by fans of NHL betting when making their ultimate decisions.
After all, the San Jose Sharks, another new Cup favorite, appeared to be dead in the water early in the first round, but were able to storm back from a 3-1 deficit to get past the Golden Knights.
Backup Goalie Instills Confidence
The confidence in Carolina likely stems not only from their commanding lead, but the stellar, albeit limited, play of McElhinney.
The 34-year-old doesn't have the postseason experience of his younger counterpart with zero starts and just 50 shots faced in the postseason for his career.
However, 17 of those shots against came in a pressure-packed third period Sunday afternoon and he stopped all of them.
That performance over a small sample size aside, there's still lots of questions to be answered with Mrazek doubtful for Game 3. Ideally the Canes would like to get him back relatively soon as his .913 save percentage and two shutouts have impressed this postseason.
Regardless of his immediate health, however, it's hard to not see why oddsmakers like the Canes in their current scenario.
Was it unexpected? Sure!
But in these NHL playoffs, unexpected has been par for the course.