NHL Picks: Capitals Comes Out Firing & Will Square The Series At 2

Doug Upstone

Wednesday, May 4, 2016 6:51 PM UTC

Wednesday, May. 4, 2016 6:51 PM UTC

As the Stanley Cup playoffs progress round by round, elements within the series emerge and often they become the barometer of how games ends up playing out. See my NHL pick inside.

In a close series like Washington and Pittsburgh, a lot can change from one contest to the next, especially with team adjustments and the ability to pass judgment based on the final results. Just two days ago we were wondering here what was wrong with Washington and now 48 hours later, we see lots of possibilities to back them against the NHL odds of -117 at Pinnacle. Time to look into Game 4 crystal ball.

First, here is a brief recap of playoffs, which finds underdogs still profitable at +2.58 units with a 30-33 record and I am 24-20 in selections here and one win away from being back in the black.


Capitals Aggression Returns, Starts To Take Control
Washington started Game 3 more purposeful than any of the last five overall, yet thanks to on terrible turnover and an opportunistic play by Pittsburgh, they trailed 2-0. The Penguins Kris Letang went high on the Caps Marcus Johansson and drew an penalty and Washington players went brain dead, going Hanson brothers from the movie - Slap Shot - and fell behind 3-0.

The Capitals were still controlling the puck and ice, but refocused and realistically dominated the rest of the contest is 3-2 setback.

After being outworked, outplayed and outshot for five periods in this series, Washington has gigantic 69-30 edge in shots over the last 80 minutes of ice time. In looking at and watching Capitals players after the game, you got the sense they are coming on, starting to play their game and confidence is building again. If Alexander Ovechkin shows up from the opening faceoff in Game 4, watch out.


Pittsburgh Will Have to Score to Over Missing Persons on Defense
Kris Letang has been enormously important for Pittsburgh and why he would lose his poise to go head hunting, only he can answer, but he really placed his teammates in horrible position with one-game suspension.

The Penguins will be without their top defenseman and had already lost blueliner Olli Maatta to Washington cheap shot, from what was already a thinned out group of defenders.

Coach Mike Sullivan will need to be a magician to have even adequate defense and thankfully has Matt Murray between the pipes, because without him they would be trailing in series after last confrontation.

This suggests the Pittsburgh offense will have to produce monster game and they are capable with all their weapons. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Patric Hornqvist will all have to be an offensive force, but they will need to have the puck to do damage.


What to Expect and Winner
With Washington penalty killers in other world zone, stopping 33 of 34 chances of opponents in the postseason (Pittsburgh 0-10), it still would make sense to have Penguins third or fourth liner try and goad Capitals player into foolish penalty, because these numbers cannot keep going.

Caps coach Barry Trotz will inform his team of this possibility and reaffirm, they are starting to gain control on the ice and with a victory have home ice edge again in best two of three and they have to take complete advantage of what Pittsburgh is lacking on defense.

In terms of deciding on an NHL pick, Washington improves to 14-3 on the road off an away defeat and ties the series.

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Free NHL Pick: Washington -125
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

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