The NHL Playoffs have finally arrived and we have a great game on the first day of the postseason. The Washington Capitals will host the Boston Bruins at Capital One Arena in D.C. for Game 1 of the best-of-sneve series between the #2 seed and the #3 seed in the Central Division.
Boston is a road favorite for both the game the series as this price has grown in a big way on the overnight lines. The Bruins are up to the -130 range at Bookmaker Sportsbook with a total of 5.5 with heavy under juice.
Let’s see if we can find a play on the side or total for this one.
The Bruins came up on the short end 2-1 on Tuesday to even up the season series at four games apiece. Boston didn’t play a full roster and the Capitals were able to secure what wound up being a largely meaningless win, as nothing could happen with the standings as a result of the game.
The Bruins had that setback in the finale, but had won six of eight games prior to that and it would appear that bettors are excited about Boston coming into the playoffs. It’s hard not to be, as the Bruins are pretty healthy overall, whereas Washington has had all sorts of injury concerns and considerations the last few weeks.
Boston allowed the fifth-fewest 5-v-5 goals during the regular season and had 100 more scoring chances than the opposition. For the most part, Boston played very well at 5-v-5, but so did Washington. So, what’s the difference in this series? Well, it’s quite simple, really. The Bruins have a massive goaltending edge.
Tuukka Rask, who opted out of last year’s bubbled playoffs because of a family concern, doesn’t have to prove anything to anybody, but you can bet that he has a little bit of a chip on his shoulder here. Rask was 15-5-2 with a 2.28 GAA and a .913 SV% in his regular season games. The Bruins had quite a timeshare with Jaroslav Halak and then Jeremy Swayman, but it will be Rask’s net in the playoffs.
Goaltending was going to be the question mark for the Capitals no matter what this season. Vitek Vanacek will get the call in the playoffs after posting a 21-10-4 record with a 2.69 GAA and a .908 SV% during the regular season. Vanacek and backup Ilya Samsonov will look to backstop a team with a ton of firepower going into the postseason.
Washington’s 131 goals at 5-v-5 rank in the top five and the Capitals at +24 in 5-v-5 goal differential. Injuries have been a factor for the Capitals for a while, but they’ve kept pushing forward with a lot of different players contributing. The Capitals were unable to add reinforcements to the roster a few different times due to salary cap constraints. Fortunately, most of their guys will be in the lineup here.
Alex Ovechkin is among those that have missed time lately, along with Nicklas Backstrom. Tom Wilson also got banged up in the last week of the regular season, so that will be another thing for Washington to deal with going into this series.
The Capitals did rack up a lot more high-danger scoring chances than the Bruins and that could be the key in this game and this series. With Boston’s goaltending advantage, Washington will need to get high-quality looks against Rask and also get some key saves from Vanacek.
Bruins vs. Capitals Free Pick
The Bruins took a lot of money very early in the betting process for this game and you certainly have to respect those dollars. That being said, while Boston is the road favorite with the big goaltending advantage, the Capitals still have a lot of firepower and can be extremely dangerous.
These two teams have already played eight times. Now that the playoffs are here, I would expect teams to really tighten things up. They have seen a lot of the opposition and everything is out in the open. Familiarity often breeds a low-scoring environment, which is what I’d look for in this game.
Pick: Under 5.5