Going down in an 0-2 hole to the underdog New York Islanders was not how the Washington Capitals believed their return to the post-season would have gone.
Through 120 minutes they’ve been out-classed and out-worked by the pesky Islanders, and their perceived edge in skill and ability has seemingly been thwarted by the discipline and structure of the Isles.
Coached by former Caps’ bench boss Barry Trotz, the Isles have done a number physically on Washington as well. Their pounding and grinding style has left the Caps’ skilled players ailing, with key centreman Nick Backstrom missing Game 2. There is hope he’ll be back in time for Game 3 Sunday.
Still though, Washington needs to figure out a way to penetrate the interior of the Islanders’ defensive zone. Their defense is doing well to keep the Caps to the outside, and Semyon Varlamov is vastly outplaying Braden Holtby.
While skill still heavily tilts the way of the Caps, sometimes will beats out skill at this time of the year. If Washington do still possess Cup aspirations in this summer bubble, this is a virtual must-win match for this proud, veteran group.
Can the Caps shake off their frustrations and allow their skill and speed game to take over? Or will the Isles continue their frustrating game-plan? This should be one of the more fascinating matchups of a loaded Sunday slate, and we’ve got your betting needs covered. Keep reading on beneath the posted odds for further team news and a betting prediction for this crucial Game 3.
Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders Betting Odds:
Washington Capitals (-112)
New York Islanders (+101)
Over 5 (-137)
Under 5 (+120)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders Pick:
Though the first two games have certainly not gone the Capitals’ way, there are some decent indications that the third game could be different.
Late in Game 2, it seemed like the Caps were finally getting their legs under them and regaining their sense of urgency. Of course, that’s something that should have been their from the outset of the series, but it is clear that Washington’s round-robin games were nowhere near the level of intensity as the Isles’ play-in contests.
The Caps have certainly underperformed thus far, but the good news is they really cannot be any worse. Especially in net where Braden Holtby can and should be better in a pivotal Game 3. We’ve seen the veteran netminder raise his game when it matters most, and if he can give Washington adequate play in goal, the Caps’ edge in shooting and scoring chance generation should win out.
While the Isles do become the home team in Game 3, don’t expect Barry Trotz to really hard-match his lines against Washington, as the Caps’ forward depth is too talented to be overly concerned about that. He’ll feel he has four lines that can play with anyone, and while that isn’t necessarily true – the Isles’ structure keeps this team in games.
Many are far too high on New York right now, and far too down on the Caps. While Washington hasn’t looked good, a full-strength group is still a far superior team to an Islanders squad that typically does not drive play at all in 5v5 situations. A veteran group like Washington will realize the importance of this contest, and look for their skill-game to finally take over and dominate in Game 3. Caps respond in a big way.
Pick: Washington 4-1