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Pittsburgh Penguins Vs. Washington Capitals Betting Preview
Here we go again: Sid vs. Ovi for Stanley
By Bob Duff
They've met at this stage two times, and two times Sidney Crosby has greeted Alex Ovechkin in the post-series handshake line as the one smiling. Is Ovi's time finally going to arrive? We've got the answer, with odds courtesy of Bovada.lv:
It isn't often that you can get an underdog price on the defending Stanley Cup champions as early as the second round of the playoffs. Then again, it isn't often that the defending champs and the Presidents' Trophy winners go head to head this early in the postseason.
Washington and Pittsburgh ran 1-2 during the regular season in points, and no matter what sportsbook you opt to wager with, you will find the Capitals and Penguins listed as 1-2 favorites to win the Stanley Cup. So yes, in a sense you can argue that this series right here is the Stanley Cup final, with the winner to be anointed as the overwhelming choice to go all the way.
And what a series it should be. It starts with the Ovechkin-Crosby showdown, although much of that will likely have to do with the work of Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom, who did a splendid job of controlling Crosby during last year's playoff meeting. Both superstars are back by excellent supporting casts.
Goaltending is always an essential playoff element. At one end you've got reigning Vezina Trophy winner Braden Holtby. Bovada has established the Capitals netminder as the +1100 favorite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury backstopped the Pens to the 2009 Stanley Cup and pinch hit for injured Matt Murray in the first-round win over Columbus. Fleury was sensational over the first three games, stopping 70 of 72 shots but then the inconsistent Fleury reared his head, as he allowed nine goals in the last two games of the series.
Injuries could be a factor for both sides. The Penguins are minus defenseman Kris Letang (back surgery), a 30-minute a night man for the Pens last spring. Pittsburgh played the first round minus forwards Chris Kunitz and Carl Hagelin, two vital elements in their 2016 Cup triumph. Both should be available to return at some point this series. Washington lost defensemen Karl Alzner and Nate Schmidt to injury in the opening round against Toronto.
Finally a series with some scoring. The Game 1 bar for total goals has been set at 5.5 but no matter. These teams are quite capable of going over that number. In five meetings this season, the Capitals and Penguins combined for 35 goals, including a 7-1 Washington victory and an 8-7 Pittsburgh win in a scorefest that saw the Penguins score six times in 11 minutes.
Play: The over
Which Crosby will show up? The guy who lit the Capitals up for 8-5-13 totals during the 2009 playoff series between the two teams, or the fellow who was checked on a pair of assists during Pittsburgh's 2016 playoff win over Washington?
Bovada has set the total on Crosby points for this series at seven and we happen to think that's a tall order. Player the under at -115.
Ovechkin, on the other hand, is assigned a total of 5.5 and based on his history against the Penguins in the playoffs, that number appears to be entirely beatable. In last spring's second round series, Ovechkin contributed 2-5-7 totals versus Pittsburgh. He provided 8-6-14 numbers in their 2009 showdown. Take the over on Ovi at -115.
Pick: The Capitals in seven games
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