Capitals vs. Bruins NHL Playoffs Betting Preview: Odds, Picks & Predictions for Game 3 (May 19)

Capitals vs. Bruins NHL Playoffs Betting Preview: Odds, Picks & Predictions for Game 3 (May 19) article feature image

Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Tuukka Rask.

  • Game 3 of the series heads to Boston with things locked at one game a piece between the Capitals and Bruins.
  • Both games have been close on the scoreboard as Games 1 and 2 went to overtime, but a closer look shows Boston is leading in several categories.
  • Matt Russell explains how he's betting this pivotal East Division matchup below.

Capitals vs. Bruins Odds

Capitals Odds+148
Bruins Odds-175
Over/Under5.5 (+100 / -122)
Time | TVWednesday, 6:30 p.m. ET
Odds updated Wednesday afternoon and via DraftKings.

Unless you’re a Bruins fan, it’s going to feel weird throwing a big fist pump to the sky when Brad Marchand scores an overtime winner. However, this is the life we’ve chosen as bettors, whose numbers showed a clear edge on the Bruins coming into this series. 

The first two games in Washington seemed quite evenly played given that both went to overtime. However, when we take a deeper dive into the predictive analytics from the more than 120 minutes of play, it paints a different picture as we try to figure out how the games will look as the series shifts to Beantown. 

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Washington vs. Boston Tale of the In-Series Tape

Here’s how the two teams have stacked up so far in the series:

Series StatsCapitalsBruins
High-Danger Chances For 5v51225
High-Danger Goals 5v512
High-Danger Conversion Rate 5v58.3%8.0%
Expected Goals 5v5 per game1.592.85
Expected Goals Share 5v535.8264.18
Power Play %20%17%
Starting Goaltender GSAA/60 min..176-0.283

There’s a couple of things that jump out to me as I cultivated these numbers. Firstly, the Bruins have doubled the High-Danger Chances at even-strength of the Capitals through two games. Given this was in the Capitals’ building, it would be surprising if the Bruins didn’t keep this 2-to-1 ratio back in Boston. 

Perhaps more interestingly, both teams have struggled to convert their High-Danger Chances. League average is a conversion rate of 14%, and both teams are scoring at around 8%. The first game stayed under 5.5 goals, while the second sailed over the same number. With 37 total High-Danger Chances at even-strength, you would expect between four and five goals to come from that offensive creation, not just three. 

So fundamentally, you would think that the goaltending is stepping up to stop these chances from being converted. That’s when we look at the goalies' numbers, only to find that while the veteran of veterans, Craig Anderson, is playing slightly above average and stopping .176 goals more than expected (per 60 minutes), Tuukka Rask, is actually playing below average, allowing .283 goals more than expected. 

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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.

xG numbers and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.

Rask’s rough numbers shouldn’t be a surprise if you’ve been watching the games. He’s been the victim of four goals that have seen pucks take odd hops or deflections to find their way into the net. Given the uncharacteristic nature of the goals against one of the top goalies in the league of the last decade, you’d expect Rask to get a little luckier going forward while still making a good percentage of the saves on the High-Danger Chances.  

As for Anderson, he turns 40 years old this week, and keeping up his above-average play seems like a lot to ask, especially if the Bruins continue to create even-strength offence at a 2-to-1 ratio to the Caps. After giving up just one goal in relief in Saturday’s Game 1, Anderson was beaten four times at even-strength in game two. He’s not playing by choice, but rather more as a last resort as Washington would rather be playing Vivek Vanecek (hurt in Game 1) or Ilya Samsonov (it’s a LONG story). 

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Betting Analysis & Pick

Full disclosure, I have the Bruins -1.5 in the series, as discussed on THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast, meaning that they need to win in six games or less. A win in this pivotal Game 3 is pretty important to the likelihood of that ticket cashing. 

Taking the numbers listed above, along with the season-long metric ‘priors’, we can build out to a true moneyline price of WSH +198/BOS -198. The price as of Tuesday night was BOS -165/WSH +145. I think there’s value on the Bruins at that price, if we see Anderson in net again.

Alternatively, with the total sitting at 5.5 with the Over paying out a plus-price, I’d expect the offensive creation to maintain it’s high level of Game 2. If this makes sense to you, but you don’t want to pay the juice to back the Bruins, or rely on the Capitals to get the same number of lucky goals they’ve been getting, maybe the team total is more your speed.

While the derivative market has yet to populate in many places as of this writing, the Bruins team total will be 3.5, and the over should be available at plus-money. 

Pick: Bruins (-165 or better) | Bruins Team Total Over 3.5 

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