The Washington Capitals went from the cusp of another wasted season to a round away from the Stanley Cup Final. The Capitals got behind against the Blue Jackets, 2-0, after the first two games of the series in the first-round. Note that both of those games were at home, so the Caps botched it out of the gate. However, they didn’t lose again against the Jackets, and rode a 4-2 series win into the next round against their arch nemesis, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
After losing to the Penguins three times in the Ovechkin-Crosby era, the Capitals and Ovi were able to break the curse in six games. The Caps bounced the Pens in Pittsburgh in Game 6, as the Capitals got a humongous monkey off their backs. All they need is another series win and they’ll be at the Stanley Cup Final.
The Jets pulled off an improbable win on the road in Nashville, defeating the Predators by a score of 5-1 to advance to the Western Conference Final. Winnipeg will play an unlikely opponent in the Vegas Golden Knights. That is a conference final that absolutely no one could have seen coming.
The Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning are a little more believable, despite the fact that everyone thought the Caps would have choked up a hairball again this year. The Caps did not win the President’s Trophy, but that award didn’t get them this far in the playoffs, anyway. It’s Stanley Cup or bust for the Capitals. Head below for our free Capitals vs. Lightning Game 1 pick of the Eastern Conference Final.
Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Game 1 Pick
There weren’t many people who gave the Capitals a chance against the Penguins. Fair enough, they’ve done a great job of passing up on opportunities to beat the Pens in the past. However, the thing I questioned was how much longer they could go without cutting the head off the head of the beast. Ovechkin had to eventually get over the hump and he did just that. The Capitals and Lightning don’t have the most history, but this should make for a good series. Stamkos vs Ovechkin doesn’t need an introduction.
The Capitals started off the playoffs with backup Philipp Grubauer in net. He got pulled and they went back to Holtby who struggled in the regular season. The Blackhawks did the same thing with backup Scott Darling and Corey Crawford a few years back. Crawford was benched, but came back later to lead the Hawks to a Stanley Cup.
Holtby has been solid and came up in a big way in Game 6. He allowed just 1 goal in the 2-1 overtime victory. The stars of these teams come on the offense side, though. There are several guys who can get the job done offensively. Note that the Caps are 1st with 3.58 goals per game in the playoffs. Conversely, the Lightning are 3rd with 3.5 goals per game. The Bolts scored at least 4 goals in three of their last four games against the Bruins. I expect this series to tighten up as it goes on, but as far as Game 1 is concerned, there should be a healthy amount of goals. I’m looking for a 4-3 or 5-3 final score in Game 1, which would give a win on the OVER.