The Capitals are hoping to even things up after dropping Game 3 and now trailing 2-1 in this best-of-seven series against Boston. Let’s analyze this matchup and keep our winning streak alive as we look forward to cashing more of our NHL picks on Friday night!
Washington Capitals vs. Boston Bruins
Friday, May 21, 2021 – 06:30 PM EDT at TD Garden
The Washington Capitals are just the second team in NHL history, along with the ’86 Winnipeg Jets, to start three different goalies in their first three playoff games. You may recall that Vitek Vanecek was injured in Game 1 and relieved by Craig Anderson in the Capitals 3-2 overtime win.
In Game 2 the 39-year-old Anderson got the start and took the loss when the Bruins evened the series with a 4-3 overtime win of their own. And on Wednesday night it was the Russian rookie, Ilya Samsonov, who got the start but fell victim to a sloppy play behind his net that led to the game-winning goal in double overtime by an opportunistic Craig Smith to clinch the 3-2 Game 3 Boston victory.
“I just tried to jump on it and see if I could create a little bit of a turnover there. They gave me just enough time,” said Smith, who also had an assist. “It just worked out. He was still out of his net trying to get back in, and I just snuck it in there.”
“We had a lot of good looks and then obviously got a break at the end,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. “It’s a second-effort league and that’s how you score. That’s the way goals go in when goalies are on. You need to get two or three whacks at it.”
Evenly Matched Playoff Foes
If we examine the first three games between these teams it will resemble the season series where the teams split the eight meetings between them. These are extremely evenly matched clubs and although there are few players in the world in the rarified air of Alex Ovechkin, the Bruins more than compensate with Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak.
But there has been a subtle shift with the way this Bruins team has operated recently and that came just about the same time Taylor Hall was acquired from the Buffalo Sabres. Hall, as many of you know, was the highly touted, first overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft but only fulfilled that lofty billing in 2017-2018 when he won the Hart Trophy as a member of the New Jersey Devils.
Since that time Hall has endured a series of injuries and setbacks, never coming close to his halcyon days with the Devils. But the Bruins could very well have struck gold in acquiring Hall. He has a renewed sense of purpose with the Bruins and escaping the hockey wasteland that is Buffalo has proven beneficial to the 29-year-old Calgary native. He has energized the Bruins with his playmaking ability and has gotten on the scorer’s sheet with a pair of goals already in this young series. Hall has fit in seamlessly with his new team and he could be the edge the Bruins needed to put them over the top.
Wanna Make a Bet?
The NHL odds at all of the best online betting sites are showing the Bruins as ranging from -165 to -180 home favorites over the Capitals. That seems a bit steep considering the fact that these teams have played so evenly with each other throughout the season, as well as this series with all three games going into overtime.
However, Washington’s goaltending concerns me. They have essentially two rookies and an old man tending the twine. And although all three are capable, we have already seen one of those young netminders, Ilya Samsonov, succumb to a costly mistake that led to Boston’s Game 3 victory.
Considering the odds, it is hard to argue with Washington bringing solid value in this game, particularly when one considers that throughout 11 regular-season and playoff games combined, the Bruins have only outscored the Caps, 35-33.
However, the Bruins have three things going for them in this one. A standout goalie, Tuukka Rask, with oodles of playoff experience, the depth of the Bruins offense, and home-ice advantage. Oh, and not to mention the soul-crushing loss that the Caps must overcome in order to even the series on Friday night.
The line is high for a reason. It is one of those spots where it feels like the bookies are begging for underdog money, doesn’t it? Well, we will eschew the value on the Caps because, as the age-old sports betting maxim goes, there is no value in losing. Lay it and like it with the B’s.
Free NHL Pick: Bruins -160 at Bet365