A second-round matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals is the headliner for Saturday night in the NHL. The first one lived up to expectations, with the Capitals defeating the Pens by an inch in overtime. T.J. Oshie went for the wrap around and goaltender Matt Murray was unable to get across in time to make a good attempt on the play. Murray ended up nudging the puck in with the end of his stick, which ultimately was the difference in a win in Game 1 for the Caps. It was an exciting game, as the superstars came out to play in spectacular fashion. Could an inch not only decide a game, but the series? I expect a long series here, so it may very well be the deciding factor. Seven games is not of the question. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or two more overtime games as well.
The Capitals are going to hope to put some big pressure on the Penguins as the series turns to Pittsburgh for Game 3. Is it over if the Caps win tonight? Oh no, the Pens could easily protect their home ice as well and tie it up at 2-2. It also wouldn’t surprise me if we have a tied series after tonight. There are a lot of things in this series that probably wouldn’t surprise me. A Capitals sweep might be the biggest turn header that could happen. If that actually does come to fruition, the belief that the Capitals are chokers might be forgotten, if at least just for a round.
I said that Murray might leave some holes open in the biggest game of his career up to this point. He didn’t look comfortable in net, and it ended up costing the Pens in the end. A quality effort from Murray, say like, what Brian Elliott did last night and the Penguins would be up in this series. However, Murray is a rookie after all and has been thrust into this spot because of Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury is still being bothered by a concussion. The Capitals are a different animal for Murray. He certainly didn’t see the same barrage of pressure from the Capitals that he did from the Flyers. The supporting cast for the Capitals is much better in years past and this is why you’re seeing a much better, different team on the ice. We found a winner in the first game, let’s go for another in Game 2 Saturday night.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals NHL Playoffs Pick
While Holtby can take over a game, he hasn’t been on that level in the playoffs. The Capitals haven’t really needed him to steal the show yet, because the offense has been playing so well. I say yet, there is going to be a game where he needs to be the center of attention. The Pens have one heck of an offense that can explode at any time. Note that they have averaged 4 goals per game in the playoffs. They haven’t been held to less than 2 goals thus far. And this is a trend that carried over from the end of the regular season, where the offense was on a torrid pace. The offense wasn’t invisible for the Penguins in Game 1, it was just Matthew Murray couldn’t hold up his end in net.
There is going to be more for Murray to contend with going forward in this series. One bad start can’t get into his head, because it’s game over if he isn’t at his optimal level. The Pens offense has been able to show that they can score on Holtby, though. They have averaged 4.3 goals per game over their last three meetings. The OVER has gone 3-0 during that span, and they have totalled for at least 5 goals in four straight games. This is going to be must-see TV tonight. I expect another thriller, with the offenses stealing the show. NBC is going to be happy to see this one in their primetime Saturday night slot. We took a loss yesterday on this same bet, but that could have easily been a 5-2 game.
PICK: OVER 5 GOALS (-125)