The Washington Capitals fended off elimination at home in Washington, now they’re going to have to do it on the road in Pittsburgh. A win would take the series back to Washington for a decisive Game 7. The Capitals are fully capable of winning three games in a row, that’s what it would take to capture the series. But they haven’t faced this kind of adversity until this point. The Pittsburgh Penguins were not on cruise control in the second-half of the season. It was actually in doubt for a while if the Pens were going to even make the playoffs. In other words, the Penguins have been in fight mode for months now. The Caps, while playing good hockey throughout the season, knew their fate for a while. They weren’t tested or pushed to rise up and overcome a bad situation. The Penguins already endured that, and now, the Capitals are going to have to fight out of a corner.
It would be a nice accolade for Alexander Ovechkin to comeback in this series. He finally got on the board in Game 6, with a rocket top-corner on the power-play. When he winds up, all the puck needs to do is find its mark and it will go in the back of the net. On some of those slap shots, he can’t hit the net, which is Matthew Murray’s best defense in those situations when Ovechkin is at the top of the corner on a power-play. The Capitals got a much needed shutdown performance from Braden Holtby.
Pittsburgh outshot Washington in Game 5, 31 shots to 19. That is the lowest shot total for the Capitals in the series, yet they were able to score 3 goals. The playoffs can be funny like that sometimes. They outshot the Flyers by 30 shots in a game in the previous series, but came up short there, now with 19 shots they came out victorious. Another do or die situation for the Capitals tonight. We’ll see if we’re going to have a much anticipated Game 7 on our hands.
Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins NHL Playoffs Pick
So here we are again, the same situation as the last game between the Capitals and Penguins. One loss could send the President Trophy winning Capitals home without the biggest trophy of all, the Stanley Cup. It’s such a demoralizing feelings being the best team for so long in the regular season, and in one night all of that is irrelevant. Two more wins in a row would eliminate that sentiment. However, you don’t finish at the top of the league for being a bad team. The Capitals would argue that they can win tonight, win the series, and win the Stanley Cup. I’m not going to lie to you, at this point, deep in playoff series, many picks come down to subjectivity.
The fact of the matter is you need to look at individual situations to ascertain a quality pick. All of the teams left are good teams. This has been a dead even series. The Penguins are up 3-2 but it could have easily been the Capitals in that spot. There is no doubt that the pressure is heating up on Matt Murray. Murray finished with a save percentage of 0.84 in Game 6, only stopping 16 shots on net and allowing 3. Holtby is the better goalie here, but I would have to say Murray has been the hotter option. Holtby has the much bigger sample size. I don’t know if Murray can keep it going. In any event, I had this series going to seven games, much to the glee of the suits at the NHL. I am going to lean with my original presumption at plus-money.
PICK: CAPITALS TO WIN +120