Today's Free Picks for
Posted May 15 before Game 1
Boston -1½ games +114 over WASHINGTON
7:15 PM EST. Look at the metrics and this series looks like a close one, as these two were almost identical in Expected Goals Per 60, High Danger Scoring Chances and High Danger Chances allowed. That’s nice, it really is but those metrics cover the entire 56-game schedule and therefore doesn’t take into consideration current form. In that respect, it’s not close and it’s not in Washington's favor.
Since the trade deadline and with Taylor Hall, Curtis Lazar and Mike Reilly in the lineup, the Bruins have been nothing short of elite. Over that span, no team in the NHL had a better expected goals rate than Boston. The B’s took a bottom-five offense and turned it into a top-10 unit without sacrificing anything on defense. Since April 1, a span of six weeks covering 20 games, the Bruins rank 3rd in the NHL In puck possession time in the offensive end during five-on-five play while the Caps rank 13th over that same span.
Then we have the intangibles. Over the past few weeks, the Caps have dealt with a number of injuries to key players like Alex Ovechkin, John Carlson, T.J. Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Ilya Samsonov and Justin Schultz. A cohort of the banged-up Caps have returned but in what figures to be a physical series, these nagging injuries could easily be triggered into something worse. The Bruins are healthy while the Caps are sorta healthy.
Finally, what decides the outcome of NHL games more than anything else? Puck possession time? No. Shots on net or scoring chances? No. What decides games more than anything is goaltending and even if we were to concede that the skaters on both these teams make this series a tossup, even though we don’t believe that for a second), one must give the Bruins a significant edge in goal.
Ilya Samsonov entered the season as the starter but dude underwhelmed with a .902 save percentage and a -6.67 Goals Saved Above Expectation (GSAx) in 19 games. Peter Laviolette’s other option is playing rookie Vitek Vanecek. He played admirably in 37 games, but his numbers were below average (.907 SV%, -8.45 GSAx), and this will be his first go-round in the postseason. Said one scout,” “Huge advantage Bruins. I’m not disrespecting Washington. But there’s something off here. Maybe their best goalie is Craig Anderson. Seriously. Maybe they should have played him more.” Meanwhile, proven playoff goaltender Tuukka Rask and sensational rookie Jeremy Swayman give Boston stable, reliable goaltending that the Caps cannot match.
While most “experts” see this as a close series, we do not and we might even sprinkle a bit on the 4-game sweep at 10-1 but for record keeping purposes, give us the B’s in six or less and we’ll see you at the cashier's real soon.
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Boston -1½ +114 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.28)