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The Cinderella story for this Florida Panthers team continues, and I’m sure most hockey fans can recite the entire tale by now. The Pittsburgh Penguins’ regular-season collapse opened the door for the Panthers to sneak into the postseason with the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot. The Panthers went on to upset the Boston Bruins in seven games in the first round. Then, despite being underdogs again, they handled the Toronto Maple Leafs in five games to reach the Eastern Conference Finals.

Best NHL Same Game Parlay Picks Friday for Panthers vs Hurricanes -3 Legs Parlay Picks (+650) Puck Line-Game

The Panthers and Hurricanes met three times during the regular season, and Carolina won two out of those three matchups. Like most opposing teams that traveled to North Carolina in 2022-23, the Panthers lost 4-0 when they visited the Hurricanes in Raleigh. While the Panthers’ road through the Eastern Conference has been a wild one and they’ve shown that they can be successful in the underdog role, Game 1 on the road at Carolina is just too tall a task for them. The Hurricanes were dominant at home during the regular season and have only lost one game there during the postseason. The Hurricanes aren’t going to take this Florida team lightly, because they are well aware of the run these Panthers have made. Look for Carolina to start this series off right with a statement win on Thursday night.

Leg-1 SGP Pick: Carolina Hurricanes -1.5  (+160)

Sebastian Aho-Goals

Winger Sebastian Aho was everything the Hurricanes needed and more this season – leading all Carolina skaters in goals and finishing second on the team in points. Aho is currently tied for the Hurricanes’ lead in postseason goals with five, despite having a poor second round against the New Jersey Devils. The Finnish star scored only one goal in that five-game series. In Carolina’s three regular-season matchups against Florida in 2022-23, Aho was very aggressive with a total of 12 shots on goal, one goal scored, and two assists over those games. Given his chance to advance to the Stanley Cup Final, expect Aho to be on his A-game all series long and expect him to lead the charge on Thursday night at home in Game 1.

Leg-2 SGP Pick: Sebastian Aho anytime goal scorer (+110)

Hurricanes-Total Goals

Despite making an impressive run to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Florida Panthers still have some issues that concern me. For starters, several of their postseason games have been high-scoring affairs. While they did prevail in a lot of these games -- including a 7-5 win over the Boston Bruins in Round 1 – the Panthers’ problem is that they’re putting a lot of stress on goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Florida is allowing the NHL’s second-most shots on goal this postseason at 35.25 per game. Fortunately, this high number of shots allowed hasn’t translated into giving up the most goals of any playoff team, because Florida has allowed the seventh-fewest goals in the postseason – putting them in the middle of the NHL pack in that category. However, it does raise some concern because the Hurricanes are very good at capitalizing on their opportunities. Ranking fourth in goals per game this postseason with 3.64, the Hurricanes have already been able to score at least five goals in four of their 11 playoff games, and they didn’t exceed 35 shots on goal in any of those four games. Indeed, the Hurricanes scored five goals in Game 1 against the New Jersey Devils despite putting only 23 shots on goal. The Hurricanes are going to make a statement at home tonight, and it’ll be a big one at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C.

Leg-3 SGP Pick: Hurricanes goals over 4.5 (+285)

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