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Bruins vs. Capitals Odds & Pick: Will Boston Finally Break Its Bubble Slump?

Bruins vs. Capitals Odds & Pick: Will Boston Finally Break Its Bubble Slump? article feature image

Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Wagner.

  • The Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals face off Sunday afternoon with heavy playoff-seeding implications on the line.
  • Both teams have started slowly during bubble play, but our hockey betting analyst Pete Truszkowski is cautiously optimistic in a Bruins resurgence.
  • Check out his full betting preview below for odds, picks, and comprehensive analysis.

Bruins vs. Capitals Odds

Bruins Odds -129 [BET NOW]
Capitals Odds +110 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 5.5 [BET NOW]
Time 12 p.m. ET

Odds as of Saturday night and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

The Boston Bruins had the top seed in the Eastern Conference all but locked up back in March.

On Sunday, they’ll be playing a game to avoid being No. 4. Such is life in the NHL’s bubble, where an eight-point lead over the second place team gave Boston no advantage in terms of seeding for the upcoming playoffs.

Boston’s opponent will be the Washington Capitals. Washington was the third seed at the time of the postponement, so their situation feels more appropriate and fair compared to Boston.

What’s on the line for these two teams? The winner will face-off against the sixth seed New York Islanders while the loser will draw the fifth seeded Carolina Hurricanes.

Both the Islanders and Hurricanes looked impressive in their qualifying round victories but it seems like the Isles’ and their lack of goal scoring ability is a more favorable draw for these two teams.

Boston Bruins

This is not the same team that we saw back in March.

Through two games thus far, they have an expected goal rate of 41.61%. Granted, most of this comes from their abysmal game against Tampa Bay where they had under a 33% share of the expected goals. Nevertheless, they have been below 50% in both of their games. During the regular season, they were near 52% in percentage, with a league best in xG allowed per 60 minutes.

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.

Stats cited from Natural Stat Trick.

The Bruins are led by the trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. They are nicknamed “The Perfection Line,” and for good reason. Most consider them the top line in the league. Through two games, the trio is yet to find the scoresheet though they continue to be effective in terms of driving play with shot attempts as well as expected goals.

Ondrej Kase will be making his first appearance of the postseason for Boston. Kase was acquired at the trade deadline from Anaheim and is expected to add much needed depth scoring for the Bruins. He is being penciled in on the second line with David Krejci and Jake Debrusk.

Bergeron, Krejci and back-up goalie Jaroslav Halak all missed practice this week after being deemed “unfit to participate” but all three are expected to be available for this game.

Common sense tells you that Boston will break out of this little slump as they get more games under their belt. This team did not just lose their abilities over the past few months. Bruins fans are hoping that starts on Sunday.

Washington Capitals

Washington will look to avoid a match-up against the team that ended their Stanley Cup defense in the spring of 2019. Carolina shocked the hockey world when they knocked off the defending champions in seven games in the first round of last season’s playoffs. If Washington loses this game, Carolina comes knocking again.

Through two games, Washington has been slightly below average in their performance. They have a Corsi-For percentage of 49.65% and an expected goals percentage of 49.01%. Their high danger chance percentage is a tad better, getting over 51% thus far. They fared surprisingly well against Tampa Bay before being shut down by the Flyers.

High-Danger Scoring Chances (HDSC) is a stat tracked by Natural Stat Trick. It’s pretty self-explanatory. A scoring chance that meets certain criteria goes down as a HDSC.

Alex Ovechkin has not scored a goal in two games and in the world of “The Great Eight,” that is considered a slump. Washington managed only 18 shots on goal in their last game against the Flyers, so the team’s offense needs to get going. Just like I expect Boston to get going as a team, I expect Ovechkin to get going very shortly.

Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom did not practice with the team on Friday and the team didn’t practice on Saturday. We have no update on his status for Sunday. Backstrom is a huge part of the Capitals’ team as he centers a second line featuring Jakub Vrana and T.J. Oshie.

Braden Holtby will get the crease for the Capitals. Holtby had a bad regular season, posting a save percentage below .900. Through two games, he is at .898. The sample size is very small, but it’s certainly not encouraging at this point. Ilya Samsonov was taking over the crease from Holtby earlier this season but he is out for the year so Washington will live and die with Holtby.

Betting Analysis

I think the line here is basically spot on. Washington is a +110 underdog which means their implied probability to win the game is 47.6%. My numbers basically agree with those odds, saying that Boston has about a 53% chance to win the game. Washington is clearly an inferior team compared to the Bruins in a normal situation.

I have no interest in betting on the Bruins at this number either. With their moneyline at -129, you aren’t getting any sort of discount for a team that has looked downright bad thus far.

The situation the NHL finds itself in; stuck in a bubble in Canada with no crowds, while also jumping right into a postseason tournament after a long hiatus is not one that every team will react to equally. Boston is the shining example of a team who is obviously struggling to adapt. I don’t think laying -129 and predicting that this will be the game everything changes is a smart move.

The total is at 5.5, and nothing sticks out to me here either. Holtby is a below-average goalie, but the elite talent on both sides is not yet contributing. It’s hard to bet an over when elite guys like Ovechkin and Pastrnak haven’t scored since March. In addition, it’s hard to bet an under when one of the goalies is stopping under 90% of the shots he faces.

At the current price, this game is a pass for me. In order to pick a side, I’d need to see Boston get much closer to -120 or Washington to get up near +120. I don’t think we’ll get there.

If you absolutely need to start your Sunday with some action, the slightest of a lean would go towards the under due to the 12 PM start time and the slow start we’ve seen from the elite offensive weapons on both sides.

Another avenue to attack the game would be to bet on Alexander Ovechkin to score a goal.

As I’ve mentioned, Ovechkin hasn’t scored in the first two games. How many three game goal-less droughts did Ovechkin have in the calendar year of 2020 before the shutdown?

Just one. This guy does not stay off the scoreboard for long.

You can bet on Ovechkin to score at +123 over at DraftKings.

[Bet now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

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