NHL Playoffs - Game 4
Washington +170 over Florida

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Odds posted at 3:00 PM EST and are subject to change.

Washington +170 over Florida

7:00 PM EST. OT included. Regular readers of this space know that we love to incorporate analytics into our process and have been doing so for a long time. Well, those underlying numbers and what they represent are no longer taboo, hard to find, or totally ignored by the mainstream. That does not mean that they do not still hold value, however, we must be mindful of how those analytics are being spewed by those talking heads to make their case. Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that the sentiment, especially among those former athletes and coaches on the panels, that the underlying numbers were just for the “nerds. “The games aren’t played on a spreadsheet,” was always a favorite go-to line with those fossils.

It is with that in mind that we are going to look underneath the surface of the goods under the hood in this series. On the surface, it looks as though the Panthers are dominating the pace of play. In all three games, the Cats have dominated the puck possession. Anyone who has watched little of this series or is just browsing those analytics for fodder could easily come up with a thesis as to why Florida is the play today, despite laying some heavy lumber. They could certainly point to Florida’s Game 2 waffling of the Capitals last Thursday night as evidence to support that argument.

That’s where we come in to rain on that parade. Yes, the Panthers have dominated both CorsiFor% and FenwichFor% after 60 minutes, but a further breakdown is needed to make sense of it all. Take the Caps’ 6-1 drubbing of the Cats at home on Saturday night. In the first period, it was all Capitals, but the scoreboard did not reflect that after 20 minutes. It was 1-1. Hockey can be a cruel game. Just ask Florida, who did all of their dominating in the second period. Washington would score two goals to take a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes. How do you think the Panthers felt after that frame? Or after the third when the Caps potted three more markers. The Cats’ $9-million man blew it again. If a team doesn’t have a goalie that can back up its quality play, is that team really dominant?

It might sound like a broken record, but believe us, it’s not. Sergei Bobrovsky is the weak link in what was an otherwise well-oiled machine. We know it. They know it. He knows it. Dude’s head has to be spinning right now if he has any self-awareness about why the President’s Trophy winners are down in this series for the second time. We’re not going to rag on “Bob” too long because it’s low hanging fruit. Rather, we’ll just tip our caps to Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette for sticking with Bobrovsky again.

That “interim” tag is worth noting, too. If the Panthers thought that Brunette was their man would they have not removed that label at some point? Nobody was asking them to sign the man to a long-term deal in the middle of the season, but it’s pretty disrespectful to not give him the title of “head coach” after a record-setting campaign. If the Cats get bounced in Round 1, there is no way Burnette or anyone else associated with disgraced former coach Joel Quenneville’s crew will be behind the bench in Florida. If he’s feeling the pressure, so is his team. As Burnette goes, so do these Cats.

The Capitals are playing with house money and they do not appear to be intimidated by these Panthers. Instead, they are patient and persistent in their pressure. The eye test still matters and we can say that the Caps pass that test with flying colors. Washington is living rent-free in both Brunette’s and Bob’s heads and loving every minute of it. We see no reason to let up, as the efficient market pounds the Panthers into oblivion. The price on the Caps is very disrespectful and fantastic locker room fodder. This is a huge overlay with Washington outright getting the call. Do not be afraid to throw Washington -1½ +300 into a few parlays. We’ll be doing the same.



Our Pick

Washington +170 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.40)

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