NHL Playoffs Odds, Picks, Predictions: Capitals vs. Bruins Game 4 Betting Preview (Friday, May 21)

NHL Playoffs Odds, Picks, Predictions: Capitals vs. Bruins Game 4 Betting Preview (Friday, May 21) article feature image

Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Tuukka Rask.

  • After three straight overtime games, the Capitals and Bruins meet again on Friday night for Game 4 of their series.
  • Boston has been the superior team thus far, although there has been some shaky play between the pipes from Tuukka Rask that is slight reason for concern.
  • Matt Russell breaks down where he sees betting value below and delivers his best bets for the game.

Capitals vs. Bruins Odds

Capitals Odds+135
Bruins Odds-165
Over/Under5.5 (+115 / -135)
TimeFriday, 6:30 p.m. ET
Odds updated Friday afternoon and via BetMGM

The NHL regular season ended and we collectively exhaled because we rid ourselves of the two toughest elements to swallow for hockey bettors: uncertainty surrounding the starting goaltender and 3-on-3 overtime/shootout randomness.

Then the Capitals-Bruins series came along, and put both those theories to the test.

Thankfully, given that all three games in this series have gone to overtime, we haven’t had to deal with that coin-flip situation, especially considering that we’ve been on the Bruins in all three games, and they’ve been the more deserving team at even-strength.

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Caps Riding Their Luck Between the Pipes

As for the irritant of trying to figure out who’s going to start between the pipes during the regular season, when the calendar turns to spring time and playoff hockey arrives, the backup goaltender is more of a "break glass in case of emergency" situation. During the season, more times than I care to count, you’ll make a bet only to find out "the other guy" is getting the call for the crease.

In the playoffs, you don’t expect to get the rug pulled out from under you in that way.

After an injury to their nominal starter in Game 1, the Capitals were forced to turn to Craig Anderson. We felt like we had a beat on the 40-year old after he gave up four goals in Game 2. Then in a surprise to many, the Capitals tabbed Ilya Samsonov to start Game 3.

As a Bruins bettor, I, for one, did not sign up for that. After missing the first two games for COVID-19 reasons that remain unclear, Samsonov stepped up big time in the first period, making a handful of tremendous saves that allowed the Caps to take the lead.

Unfortunately for Washington, the Bruins fought back to tie the game through no fault of Samsonov. The game found its way to overtime, and then a second overtime, and whether you call it a communication error or maybe exhaustion taking effect, Samsonov turned the puck over behind his net and was slow to get back in position in time to prevent Craig Smith from stealing the puck and tucking in the game winner.

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.

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Bruins Hope Rask Settles In

The Bruins took the series lead thanks to their second straight overtime winner, but I’m here to make the case that these overtime games are flattering the Capitals.

Let’s take a look at some of the important predictive metrics accumulated through the first three games of this series.

High-Danger Chances For 5v52032
High-Danger Goals 5v523
High-Danger Conversion Rate 5v510%9.37%
Expected Goals 5v5 per game1.732.68
Expected Goals Share 5v539.23%60.77%
Power Play %20%18.2%
Starting Goaltender GSAA/60 min.-0.07-0.21

Whether it’s the advantage of four more even-strength High-Danger Chances per game, or the 5-on-5 Expected Goal Share that also favors the Bruins, there’s a clear advantage for Boston. With special teams play equally mediocre and both teams struggling to convert their High-Danger Chances, two of the three games have gone under the number, which has kept games close.

One piece of worry for the Bruins has been the play of star goaltender Tuukka Rask. We called his poor numbers in the first two games a reflection of bad luck as an inordinate amount of "seeing eye" shots managed to find the back of the net in Washington.

Game 3’s goals were a little more understandable, but it was some of the chances that didn’t go in that were unnerving. Rask could be accused of looking shaky despite giving up just two goals in over four periods. I still believe that his play will become more steady, and the Bruins have done enough to salvage a series lead despite the overtime high-wire act.

Betting Analysis & Pick

When it comes to making a bet in this game, there’s still value on the Bruins moneyline at -165. However, if you want to tempt fate, you can play them to win in regulation at close to even money.

Each game is its own entity mathematically, but it would be quite something if this game goes to overtime yet again. Given the numbers that have been built up and listed above, the Bruins are the more likely team to have a breakout game.

As such, I’m willing to split a unit with half on the Bruins to win in regulation at -105 and half on the puckline with BOS -1.5 +155.

Pick: Bruins in Regulation -105 / Bruins -1.5 +155

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