Blue Jackets vs. Capitals Pick
The Washington Capitals have had well-chronicled issues in the postseason during the Alexander Ovechkin era. Is Washington going to get over that hump this postseason as it opens play in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals tonight when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets?
Capital One Arena at 7:30PM ET
Public Betting Information
Oddsmakers at sportsbook YouWager have listed the Capitals as a -140 favorite to win on the moneyline. The Blue Jackets are a +120 underdog, while the over-under is set at 5.5 goals. As of Thursday afternoon, 52 percent of public bets have been placed on the visiting Blue Jackets. Check out our NHL Public Betting Page for all the latest information.
Capitals won season series over Blue Jackets
Washington did well against Columbus this season, winning the first three meetings - 4-3 and 4-2 at home, 3-2 on the road. But in the final meeting of the regular season on Feb. 26, the Blue Jackets finally got one back by rolling to a 5-1 victory. It broke a streak of six straight wins by the Capitals in the series. The over hit in three of the four games this season. If the Blue Jackets have a shot to steal this series, it will need a tremendous effort by goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (2.42 GAA, .921 save pct.) as well as timely scoring from players such as Artemi Panarin (27G, 55A)and Pierre-Luc Dubois (20G, 28A).
Grubauer gets starting nod in goal
In what can be seen as a minor surprise, goaltender Philipp Grubauer has been handed the Game 1 start by Washington head coach Barry Trotz. Grubauer was the better goalie all season, but still only played in 35 games compared to 54 appearances for Brayden Holtby. Grubauer finished the regular season with a 2.35 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage, while Holtby notched a 2.99 GAA along with a .907 save percentage. Sure, Holtby has more big-game experience but he hasn't always come through in such situations. In my mind, Grubauer was the easy choice. And the good news for the Caps is that if Grubauer doesn't come through, they have a proven commodity in Holtby to fall back on.
NHL Betting Trends
The Blue Jackets are 0-4 in their last four meetings in Washington. The over is 4-0 in the last four Columbus games versus the Metropolitan Division. The over is 6-0 in the last six Blue Jackets games overall.
The over is 5-0 in the last five Capitals games played on three or more days of rest. Washington is 6-1 in the last seven meetings overall. The over is 3-1-1 in the last five meetings.
Washington has had a decade-long issue in the playoffs, ever since Ovechkin arrived. Certainly not all the blame can be put on the Capitals' superstar, not even close. He's had a load of great playoff games, but for whatever reason as a team Washington can't climb that hurdle. Last year saw the Caps climb out a 3-1 series deficit in the first round against Pittsburgh to force a Game 7, only to be shut out in that pivotal game. I believe Washington will win this series, but might come out very tense in Game 1 against a talented and strong defensive team in the Blue Jackets. I don't think many goals will be scored here and the addition of Grubauer helps the unde.
NHL DAILY PREDICTION: BLUE JACKETS/CAPITALS UNDER 5.5