Roll up, roll up for the greatest show on ice...
Maybe just because I’ve got a soft spot for the Rangers - I'm going against the numbers in this one. New York finished the regular season in 6th place while the Washington Capitals were third. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy so, back the series going the distance at +187. For a comparative bet you should know that the series ending after 5 games is at +275.
Let’s Have a Bit or Perspective
The bookies fancy the Penguins at +35 0followed by the Blackhawks at +450 as NHL betting odds favourites to lift the Cup, while the Rangers are +2800longshots and the Caps are just ahead at +2000 . It might puzzle you to see your Humble Handicapper throw his money (and reputation) behind the under dogs especially as not even the aforementioned Penguins closed the season as strong as the Ovechkin-led Washington Capitals. How good were the Caps? Well Following a slow start with their rookie coach Adam Oates, the Southeast Division champions went and won 11 of their last 13 games to earn the third seed in the East and this first-round matchup with the New York Rangers.
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One Man Does Not a (Stanley Cup Winning) Team Make
Washington’s Ovechkin finished the regular season with an NHL-high 32 goals (in no small part due to his scoring a league-record 14 times in April) and is now the first player to win the Richard Trophy three times (after also winning it in 2008 and 2009). Despite the trophy cabinet, Ovechkin hasn’t led Washington past the second round of the playoffs and the franchise that hasn’t advanced further than that, not since getting swept by Red Wings in the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals.
Alex Ovechkin, will be going up against the top notch goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist. This is going to be a close series, but I reckon defence will make the difference for our NHL picks here.
In their first 11 games, Washington averaged 2.27 goals, but then their offense exploded and their average leapt to 3.21 and they became contenders again. But I have a feeling in my water that we’ll see anther slow start from the Capitals, and the damage will be done.
Back in 2012, the Rangers went into the playoffs with just the one elite goal-scorer, Marian Gaborik, who recorded 41 in the regular season. It could well be a similar story after New York shipped Gaborik to Columbus, leaving Nash as their last man standing. He’ll need support from his team and I reckon they are up to the job, but don’t bet on there being too many Rangers goals this Stanley Cup.
NHL Free Pick: Rangers win this one 3-2 at +110 with Bet365, on their way to winning series.
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