NHL Odds & Pick for Capitals vs. Bruins: Which East Division Contender Has Better Value? (Sunday, April 18)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images. Pictured: Taylor Hall.
- Having won in Philly on Saturday, the Caps go for another East Division win on Sunday in Boston.
- The Bruins have been boosted by some trade-deadline acquisitions, including a pair of forwards and defenseman Mike Reilly.
- Nicholas Martin breaks down why Boston has the betting value.
Capitals vs. Bruins Odds
|Time||Sunday, 12 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday and via BetMGM|
The Capitals will get right back into action on Sunday afternoon at TD Garden after a comfortable 6-3 win in Philadelphia on Saturday. The Bruins will host Washington coming off of an impressive 3-0 win of its own against the Islanders on Friday night.
Last week, Washington caught Boston in this same spot, with the Bruins having played on Saturday morning and the Capitals lying in wait for the next day. The Bruins played without most of their regular defense and with their fourth-string goaltender Dan Vladar en route to an embarrassing 8-1 defeat.
However, it would not be the worst night for Bruins fans since general manager Don Sweeney came through with some deals that should greatly help them the rest of the way and into the playoffs. Sweeney made a very smart move for underrated defenseman Mike Reilly, who will be of particular use in the short term to a Boston defense that is weathering a bad injury situation.
Sweeney also managed a trade for forwards Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar for a very reasonable fee — Hall had a full no-trade clause and made things tough on Buffalo general manager Kevyn Adams.
The group has immediately rewarded its general manager with three straight wins since the acquisitions. No. 1 defenseman Charlie McAvoy is back and Mike Reilly has stabilized the second pairing, so it appears the Bruins are well-positioned as they await the returns of Matt Grzelcyk and Brandon Carlo.
Hall has skated well on the second line and gives the Bruins incredible upside to address some of their depth scoring concerns.
The Bruins have announced that Tuukka Rask will start in net, coming off a solid win in which he stopped 22 of 23 shots in his return from injury.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
The Capitals continued their Jekyll and Hyde ways of late this week, sandwiching an ugly 5-2 loss to Buffalo between two big wins in which they took full advantage of poor Flyers goaltending and sloppy defensive structure.
The Capitals are very good at taking advantage of offensive opportunities and again lead the league in goals for above expected at +29.17. Going back to 2016-17, Washington has led in goals scored above expected two separate years and finished no lower than sixth place.
Excluding last Sunday’s win in which the Capitals played a severely depleted Boston group, the Capitals are 0-3 of late against the playoff teams in the East Division. The team has done a great job of capitalizing on chances (not entirely unsustainable given the talent upfront) and finding ways to win against weaker teams in the division, but I believe that this has hidden some real concerns, particularly on the back end.
The Capitals have consistently overachieved expected performance as indicated by play driving numbers, finding lots of success with five consecutive division titles despite finishing 16th, 23rd, 24th, ninth and seventh during those years in the xGF% category. However this recent spell is particularly bad, as the Capitals have skated to a 42.34 xGF% over their last nine outings, with a high xGA/60 of 2.79.
The greatest problems seem to lie on the back end, to my eye as a longtime Caps fan. John Carlson, Brenden Dillon and Zdeno Chara are all being exposed defensively far too often of late.
It will be interesting to see how the playoffs go for a Washington team with a boatload of talent, but definitely some real flaws so far this season.
Washington will likely start rookie Vitek Vanecek, who has been solid so far this season with a .911 SV%.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Boston have bounced back from last Sunday’s 8-1 embarrassment to the Caps with three straight wins, including two very solid efforts over a top team in the New York Islanders.
The new additions seem to be giving serious boosts to both the number two defensive pair and the second line, and I like Boston’s chances to finish strong down the stretch and put together another good effort tomorrow.
Washington have been winning a lot of games against weaker competition, by managing a very high total of goals for. Boston will certainly be a stiffer test, and likely won’t offer up the defensive breakdowns or poor goaltending that the Capitals have dominated in recent wins. Boston will likely manage the puck better than what this Caps team has seen of late, and find a way to get some sustained pressure on a Capitals defense that has been quite suspect in recent games.
Pick: Bruins -115