Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Betting Predictions
By Angelo Montilla
Pittsburgh Penguins (+190) vs. Washington Capitals (+175)
Sidney Crosby versus Alex Ovechkin Part III will get underway on Thursday when the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins travel to Washington for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal against the Capitals.
The Penguins cruised through the first round, defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets in five games, while the Capitals were pushed to the limit by the Maple Leafs, who took the Presidents’ Trophy winners to five overtimes before being ousted in six games.
Pittsburgh slid into the top spot to come out of the Eastern Conference as +190 favorites, while Washington — once the team to beat — is at +175.
There’s no doubt the focus will once again be centered on the matchup between Crosby and Ovechkin, who will meet in the playoffs for a third time. Crosby has got the best of his Metropolitan Division rival in the post-season, defeating Ovechkin and the Capitals both times.
Two two clubs clashed in the second round a year ago and the best-of-seven series went seven games with the Penguins prevailing en route to winning the franchise’s fourth Stanley Cup crown.
The question is whether the Capitals can finally break through and advance past the second round of the playoffs in the Ovechkin era.
If the opening round is any indication, this series is expected to produce an abundance of offense. The Penguins netted 21 goals against the Blue Jackets and head into their second-round matchup averaging a league-leading 4.20 goals per game. The Capitals — coming off a high-scoring series against the Maple Leafs — netted 18 goals in the first round and open their Eastern Conference semifinal with an average of 3.00 goals per game.
Both the Pens and Caps boast deadly powerplay units. Pittsburgh have converted 33.3 percent of its chances with the man advantage while Washington have been just as impressive, with a 29.4 rating with an extra man.
The focus will also be between the pipes as it looks as if Marc-Andre Fleury will be the starter for the Penguins, who lost No. 1 goalie Matt Murray to injury in the opening round. Fleury was solid against the Blue Jackets, turning aside 181 of 194 shots and posting a respectable 2.52 goals-against average.
Luckily for the Penguins, Braden Holtby hasn’t been much better for the Capitals. The Vezina Trophy candidate allowed 16 goals in the first round and posted a 2.36 goals-against average.
Both teams have the offensive weapons to get through to the Eastern Conference final. However it will come down to who is better in their defensive zone.
Although the Capitals ruled the regular season once again, Crosby will get the best of his long-time rival yet again. Take the Penguins in seven.
Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins (+190)
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