Saturday afternoon’s NBC NHL betting battle in the postseason gets underway at 3:00 p.m. (ET) from Madison Square Garden, where the New York Rangers will look to take the 1-0 series lead over the Washington Capitals.
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It isn’t all that much of a surprise that the Capitals are here in the second round of the playoffs. They were really supposed to run away from the Southeast Division this year once again and coast into this spot in the second season. In the end, it didn’t quite all work out that way, but then again, Washington didn’t use the same players and coaches that you would figure to get to this point either. It isn’t Bruce Boudreau calling the shots. Now, it’s Dale Hunter. It’s not Tomas Vokoun who is doing the damage in net. Instead, it is Braden Holtby, who had never started a playoff game before in his career. It’s not Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, or Alexander Semin that is figuring out how to score the big time goals. Sure, all three are on the stat sheet quite a bit, but the big goals belong to Troy Brouwer and Joel Ward, both of which have found game-winners over the course of the playoffs. It’s all house money for the Caps at this point, and now they find themselves locked into a series with a team that they have had a great history against.
The Rangers are the best team left in the playoffs in terms of seeding, but it definitely didn’t come without a fight. At times, they really didn’t look like they were the better team in the first round of the postseason against the Ottawa Senators, who really limped into the playoffs as one of the worst looking teams in the fold. That being said, over the course of the last two games, New York has looked a lot better out there, though we must admit that one-goal wins against teams like the Senators aren’t all that impressive. Still, Henrik Lundqvist was able to do the job when push came to shove, and we really didn’t think that he was going to have to exert all that much effort to get this team into the second round of the playoffs. Lundqvist has had a terrible history trying to stop Ovie and the gang, but this year, he has a lot better offense in front of him that might be able to pick him up should he struggle to keep the Capitals off of the scoreboard.
Washington Capitals @ New York Rangers Pick: We just can’t ignore what our eyes are seeing right now. We still don’t really think that the Capitals are quite there at this point, and they just don’t have a great postseason history. The Rangers are going to really want to get off to a good start in this series and to put the pressure on Washington right away by taking the first two games here at home, and we think that they will do just that.
Free Hockey Pick: New York Rangers
Aaron Ryan has been in the sportswriting biz since the late-90s, and he has worked side by side with some of the best and brightest in sports gambling. Always searching for the best trends in sports, Andrew uses his brilliant math mind to his advantage to beat the books.