Playoff failure and the Washington Capitals go hand in hand. Each spring the Caps finish the regular season as one of the top NHL teams with a high seed and atop the wagering board as a favorite to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup. Like the politicians that plague their hometown the Capitals are always full of promise. And just like those politicians they end up letting their supporters down with failure. Cherry blossoms and playoff losses are the norm in Washington. But even the toughest hockey handicappers acknowledge that eventually the worm could possibly turn.
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Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Washington Capitals
Date and Time: Saturday, April 21, 2018, 3 p.m. ET
Location: Capital One Arena, Washington, DC
NHL Odds at Betcris: Check Back Later
Blue Jackets vs. Capitals TV Coverage: NBC/NBCSN
Columbus is a young team that came on strong in the stretch run of the regular season. Playoff prospects were looking dim in February but the youth and speed of the Blue Jackets began to generate enough offense to get them into the post season as the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. Washington is much more of a veteran team that is trying to overcome its playoff failures of the past. Those past choke jobs hang over the franchise like a very dark storm cloud.
Players to Watch
Columbus left wing Artemi Panarin brings fans out of their seats with a skill set that may be the best in the NHL. He leads the Blue Jackets with two goals and five assists with a plus two. He has thrilled fans with his puck carrying and skating ability spinning and dicing through the Washington defense like a magician.
For Washington the man to watch of course is “The Great Eight” Alex Ovechkin. Renowned for his famed snap shot off the left wing on the power play he totaled 49 goals on the season. Now in his 12th season he is yet to win the Stanley Cup. Ovechkin epitomizes the Capitals franchise in that his great regular seasons are followed with playoff heartbreak.
Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has a save percentage of .925 in the playoffs thus far. In the regular season his save percentage was .921 with five shutouts. The eight-year veteran has a subpar career save percentage of .895 for the playoffs.
Washington benched Braden Holtby for the first two games of this series but Philipp Grubauer was unable to deliver forcing Holtby back in goal. He has responded with a .930 save percentage so far in the playoffs. Holtby is also an eight-year veteran with an impressive career playoff save percentage of .932.
Special teams were a drag on Columbus this year. The Blue Jackets ranked 25th in the NHL for the power play and 27th for penalty killing.
Washington had the NHL’s seventh best power play but rankled 15th for penalty killing.
Columbus was 19-18-1-3 on the road this year with 25 of their away games going over the total. The Blue Jackets ranked 17th in the NHL for goal scoring but ninth for goals against.
Washington had a home record of 28-11-2 this year with just 19 of their 41 home games going under the total. The Capitals ranked ninth in the NHL for goal scoring and 16th for goals against.
Washington has won 10 of their last 14 home games against the Blue Jackets with just one of the last eight in this series at DC going under the total.
Blue Jackets vs. Capitals Free Picks
Washington has the deeper roster. Despite their notorious playoff failures, they have more weapons and are normally tough at home despite losing the first two games on home ice in this series.
Blue Jackets vs. Capitals Pick: Bet the Washington Capitals money line
Blue Jackets vs. Capitals Score Prediction: Capitals 3, Blue Jackets 1
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