The first day of the Stanley Cup Playoffs provided a couple of nail biters, while another was an absolute route. The Penguins blew the doors off the Flyers for a final score of 7-0. The Flyers looked like they were content to just be there, while the Pens realized the playoffs have started and kicked it up a gear. Philadelphia have to forget about that one and move on.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a 1-0 loss or 7-0, they both amount to a 1-0 series lead. The Knights edged out the Kings by a score of 1-0, with an early goal in the 1st period holding up to the end. Like I said, the Knights are great at adapting to their competition. The Kings want to slow things down, fine, the Knights are capable of playing that kind of game.
Elsewhere in the NHL, the Jets scored a couple of goals in the 3rd to earn a 3-2 win in Winnipeg. The Vegas and Winnipeg series appeared at first sight that they may be long series, and after one game, there is nothing to suggest they are going to be done in 4 or 5 games. A host of more Game 1’s get underway on Thursday night, with five games in action.
The Columbus Blue Jackets return to the playoffs this season after they were bounced in the first-round against the Pens last season. Their past two exits in the playoffs came against the Penguins. In 2018, the Blue Jackets will take a shot a Penguin rival, the Washington Capitals. The Caps didn’t have a prototypical regular season this year. They didn’t blow anyone away, but they still managed to win the Metropolitan. Washington won the President’s Trophy for the best record in the NHL the last two seasons. That didn’t get them a Stanley Cup, though, did it? Head below for our free Blue Jackets vs. Capitals Game 1 pick.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Washington Capitals Game 1 Pick
The most surprising part of the Capitals’ season has been the poor play of netminder Braden Holtby. Holtby finished the regular season with a GAA of 2.99 and 0.907 save percentage. It was the worst season of his eight-year career. So, lets assume that Holtby had better numbers. The Capitals likely would have been up there at the top of the league again. They will not be going to Holtby in Game 1, as Philipp Grubauer who has been the better of the two, will start in net to get the first-round started.
We’ve seen coaches dance with different goaltenders in the playoffs before. The most recent success was the Chicago Blackhawks, who were unsure between Scott Darling and Corey Crawford. It almost seems ridiculous thinking about it, but it took a benching to get Crawford going again. Difference being, Crawford was just cold for a stretch, Holtby has been consistently bad throughout.
The Caps did earn home ice advantage in the first-round, though. Ovechkin was fantastic again in the 2017-18 season. He recorded 49 goals to lead the Caps on offence. Overall the Capitals averaged 3.12 goals per game for 9th in the NHL. The Blue Jackets were average on the road with a record of 19-18-1. The Jackets have gone 0-4 their last four trips to D.C. and are 1-6 in their last seven meetings with the Capitals.
The way the playoffs are structured with seeding, there are some good first-round matchups. However, at the same time, good teams will be gone rather quickly. This is another series which should be entertaining. I doubt the Capitals come out sloppy in Game 1. How many more times must they be reminded that they are chokers in the playoffs? The choke job comes in the later stages, though. The Capitals take Game 1 and get the postseason started on the right foot.