Today's Free Picks for
Posted on Tuesday April 10 before Game 1
Columbus +115 over WASHINGTON
Series pick – Begins Thursday, April 12
7:30 PM EST. There are some so-called experts all across the media that suggest the Capitals are under the radar coming into the playoffs because in previous years, when they have been knocked out early, they were heavy favorites to make a deep run. While that is true, a team under the radar is an underdog that has the potential to pull off upsets. That does not apply to the Capitals, as this is one of the more beatable teams in the league that is a first-round favorite and we’d be shocked if they got past one round, let alone more. The only possible way that the Capitals survive is through outstanding goaltending because they are not going to outplay, outwork, outskate, out-shoot or out possession any team in these playoffs and certainly not the Blue Jackets.
The Capitals 49-26-7 record is one of the most misleading on record in the history of this sport. They won more games than they lost because they got every bounce and received great goaltending from Braden Holtby and then Philipp Grubauer after Holtby went cold. During even strength this season in Corsi For %, which is a proxy for puck-possession time, the Caps ranked 24th out of 31 teams. Ranking 23rd was Arizona and ranking 25th was Vancouver. In Corsi Against during 5v5 play, Washington ranked 23rd. In High Danger Scoring Chances Against, the Capitals ranked 29th in the NHL with the New York Islanders ranking 30th and the Rangers ranking 31st. Again, Washington’s success was all based on extreme luck. This is a top heavy team with two good lines and two below average lines. This is also a team with one of the worst core of defensemen in the entire league and certainly the worst of all the 16 playoff teams. The Caps are falsely favored to win.
John Tortorella might be many things but one thing he is not is an idiot. The blueprint to beat the Capitals is not a difficult one and it begins with staying out of the penalty box because that is the only way the Caps can hurt them. During five-on-five play, all the metrics scream that the Jackets will dominate puck possession and apply sustained pressure for long periods in the Capitals end. Columbus ranks 15 positions or higher than the Caps in every key metric both offensively and defensively. The Jackets roll out four lines that all can skate, produce and collectively outplay the Caps by a wide margin. Defensively is where the Jackets have an even bigger edge. Seth Jones and Zach Werenski have played more even-strength minutes together than any NHL defensive pairing in the past two regular seasons. The Capitals have nothing close to those two. The Blue Jackets were built for playoff hockey. They are physical, quick, balanced and have a great defense while Washington has two good lines and great goaltending.
While we fully understand that goaltending can decide a playoff series, we’re not going to allow that to influence us in any way. What we trust for sure after watching these two teams play 82 games each is that the Jackets will outplay the Capitals by a significant margin over a seven game series. Bob in net for the Jackets makes us nervous for sure because he can be downright awful (although the experts will say he’s great) and if we get beat by goaltending, so be it. We get a price on the vastly superior team that will dominate puck possession and let’s not forget that the Capitals can easily become fragile should things not go their way in Washington in the first two games. Bob has playoff experience while the Caps have named Grubauer the starter in this series. Frankly, we doubt that it’s going to matter which goaltender the Caps use because whoever it is will have to stand on their head to dispose of this superior team.
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Columbus +115 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.30)