NHL Betting: Puck Line Favors #1 Overall Seed Capitals' vs. Weaker Flyers

Ross Benjamin

Thursday, April 14, 2016 2:45 PM GMT

Thursday, Apr. 14, 2016 2:45 PM GMT

Our handicapper provides a betting preview for Thursday’s opening game of the Flyers/Capitals series. Go inside to find the details on this matchup before making your NHL picks.

Philadelphia/Washington Series Opener on Thursday
The Flyers and Capitals open their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal best-of-seven playoff series on Thursday at the Verizon Center in Washington. The opening puck drop is slated for 7:05 PM ET. These Metropolitan Division rivals have met four times during the regular season, split those encounters, and the games went 2-1-1 over the total.

Washington enters the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the #1 overall seed. Philadelphia didn’t clinch a playoff spot until the next to last day of the regular season. Current NHL betting odds at BetOnline has Washington as a massive -223 money line favorite for Game 1 of the series, and the posted total is 5.0.

Must Read: Handicapping Methods & Advice

Starting Goaltenders
Let’s take a look at the expected starting goaltenders for Game 1 of this series. I may not have used the word expected as of 24 hours ago when referencing this goaltending preview. However, after witnessing Pittsburgh unexpectedly going with third stringer Jeff Zatkoff between the pipes in it series opener versus the Rangers last night, I thought it necessary to do so. Let me phrase it another way, barring something unforeseen, Philadelphia will go with Steve Mason in goal, and it will be Braden Holtby for Washington.

Steve Mason has shouldered much of the workload in goal for Philadelphia since Micheal Neuvirth went down with a left knee injury (torn meniscus) in late March. Mason went 24-30 in 54 starts this season with a very respectable .918 save percentage. He did struggle a bit over his last four starts, evidenced by a rather poor .889 save percentage during those outings. Mason was 1-2 in three starts versus Washington this season with a .909 save percentage.

Braden Holtby had a terrific 2015-2016 regular season campaign. He went 49-17 (.742) in 66 starts with a stellar .922 save percentage, and that includes 26-7 (78.8%) at home. Putting those numbers into proper perspective, Washington went just 7-9 this season when Braden Holtby wasn’t their starting goaltender. Holtby started all four of Washington’s regular season encounters against Philadelphia, and posted a very good .926 save percentage.

Riding the Late Season Surge
There was a point early this season in which Philadelphia qualifying for the playoffs appeared to be a pipe dream for its rabid fan base. After all, they began the year by losing 14 of their first 20 games. They turned thing around from that point on to go 35-27 in its last 62 games, including 15-7 during their final 22 regular season outings. The question now becomes, did they expend too much energy in an attempt to just make the playoffs? Better yet, do they have anything left in the tank? It remains to be seen, and we’ll soon enough get those answers.

 

Recapturing the Momentum
There was little suspense in the second half of the season on whether or not Washington would win the Metropolitan Division. That was pretty much a foregone conclusion. Additionally, there wasn’t much drama during the final month concerning Washington becoming the #1 overall seed for the upcoming 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

As a matter of fact, complacency seemed to take place on their part, and they went just 7-9 during the final 16 games, and that includes 1-4 in its last five outings. They’ll now be faced with having to turn the proverbial light switch back on for postseason play, and sometimes that’s easier said than done.

 

Final Take and Pick
I’ve done my extreme best throughout my 14 year professional career to be close to if not 100% transparent. Keeping with that same theme, one of my NHL picks on Thursday won’t be coming in this specific game. I just can’t lay this heavy juice for a money line wager on Washington. By doing so, it would defy all my ethics and principles pertaining to NHL betting.

Nor could I make a case for Philadelphia, despite the enticing rate of return potential. I also wasn’t able to uncover any betting value pertaining to the total in this game. In terms of a very small lean, I’ll turn towards a puck line pick on Washington. At the time of this writing, NHL odds at Ladbrokes provides me with the best price in that regard.

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Free NHL Pick: Washington Capitals -1.5 (+125)
Best Line Offered: at Ladbrokes

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