The Washington Capitals are back in the same spot the team found itself in April 25 – On the road as a sizable underdog a and already playing beyond what anyone expected. In other words, just how they like it!
Ovechkin has played a major role in this series and in eight playoff games at Madison Square Garden, the “Great 8” has four goals and four assists
After losing Game 5 in heartbreaking fashion, Washington responded with a solid effort on home ice to force Game 7. Alex Ovechkin opened the scoring on a power play goal from Nik Backstrom and Mike Green at 1:28 but the Caps hunkered back into the tight checking style of hockey that has carried them one game from the Eastern Conference Final.
Braden Holtby was once again the star of the game and was it not for a questionable “no call” on Marion Gaborik’s last-minute goal, the 22-year-old Saskatchewan native would have secured his first-ever NHL playoff shutout.
Personal achievements do not seem high on Holtby’s list of priorities. He’s already played twice as much playoff hockey as he did during the regular season, going 7-6 through the Caps post-season run with a 1.96 goals against average and .935 save percentage. 12 of Washington’s 13 games have been of the one-goal variety, too, and against Henrik Lundqvist (7-6, 1.73 GAA, .936 SV) it will once again be up to Holtby to provide his team with a chance to win.
Online sportsbooks opened betting for this game at New York -142 and line movement has been minimal, despite New York’s legendary 4-0 record on home ice in Game 7’s. Those four games sprawl back over a 20-year span, mind you, and three of the wins were by a one-goal margin making the trend more of a media-hype thing than a betting tool.
NEW YORK NOW
The Rangers and Capitals hooked up during last year’s playoffs and after losing the opener in overtime, New York swept the Caps away. Fast-forward to 2012 and one thing that hasn’t changed is the low scoring first periods in Ranger playoff games.
Here’s the updated list for New York; first period Under (2-16 O/U)
Average total number of first period goals: 0.72
FIRST GOAL OF GAME – NEW YORK RANGERS PLAYOFFS
*total number of first period goals in ( )
2011 vs. Capitals
Game 1, third period at 1:15 (0)
Game 2, second period at 2:11 (0)
Game 3, second period at 5:30 (0)
Game 4, second period at 5:24 (0)
Game 5, first period at 5:59 (1)
2012 vs. Senators
Game 1, first period at 12:01 (1)
Game 2, first period at 10:11 (1)
Game 3, third period at 7:35 (0)
Game 4, first period at 0:49 (2)
Game 5, first period at 9:18 (1)
Game 6, first period at 7:05 (1)
Game 7, second period at 4:46 (0)
2012 vs. Capitals
Game 1, second period at 12:38 (0)
Game 2, first period at 12:20 (3)
Game 3, second period at 6:41 (0)
Game 4, first period at 12:43 (1)
Game 5, first period at 10:44 (1)
Game 6, first period at 1:28 (1)
It’s a by product of stellar goaltending and it often leads to low scoring finales, reflected in NHL odds which currently show 5 Under (-161) for tonight’s game. In 2011, the series produced just 1 over (1-3-1 O/U), the series vs. the Sens finished 1-3-3 O/U and so far against the Caps we have seen a single “Over” (0-3-3 O/U).
Sports betting shops don’t miss much and odds for betting the first period “Under” have been priced in the -180 range since Game 6 against Ottawa. The “Under” 5 makes sense today but even at -161, we prefer to look elsewhere. It leaves us with a value play on the underdog. In such close games with a pair of top notch goaltenders, we will back the plus-money road pup that has been building into its current form all season long. The Caps may have yet to hit their high and to have their shot at the Cup; they first need to deal with the beasts of the East.
Pick: Take the Capitals
AROUND THE BOARDS
Early NHL odds for Game 1 between the Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes lean slightly to the Kings (-109). Click Pinnacle Sports and get the best NHL odds on the net, including series prices of Los Angeles -163.
NHL TRENDS FOR TODAY’S GAMES
– Five-straight games in this series have been decided by one goal
– Washington’s penalty kill unit is 40 for 46 in the playoffs (87-percent). That’s sixth best overall and first in the Eastern Conference (Rangers are 82.2-percent)
– New York beat Ottawa in Game 7, Round 1. Before that, their most recent Game 7 home win was in 1994 (Canucks)
– Ovechkin has played 30 games at MSG, 22 regular season (22 points) and eight playoff (eight points)
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