The Washington Capitals are favored on Sunday night, as they host the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference playoff series on NBCSN. The Capitals were a very good home team in the regular season, winning 28 games, while the Blue Jackets were nothing special on the road. The Capitals have also won 8 of the last 10 at home against Columbus. Let’s look at Sunday’s game and NHL Playoff picks.
Don't miss the ice action from Capital One Arena at 7:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 15, 2018. Catch every moment of the game live on NBCSN.
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The Capitals are listed as home favorites on Sunday with the total at 5.5. The Blue Jackets were nothing special on the road during the regular season but a lot of people were picking Columbus to win this series before it began. To win this series the Blue Jackets will have to win at least one game in Washington. Columbus doesn’t score a ton of goals but they do have a potent top line with Pierre-Luc Dubois, Artemi Panarin and either Josh Anderson or Cam Atkinson.
The Capitals have a marquee top line of Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson. Ovechkin led the NHL with 49 goals this season and he also added 38 assists. Where the Capitals have the edge is on the second and third lines. Their second line features Evgeny Kuznetsov and T. J. Oshie and the Capitals have Andre Burakovsky on the third line.
The Blue Jackets scored 2.9 goals per game this season and gave up 2.8 per contest. They went 19-22 on the road with 25 games going over and 16 going under. The Capitals averaged 3.1 goals per game this season and gave up 2.9 per contest. They went 28-13 at home in the regular season with 21 games going over, 19 going under, with one push.
Columbus has a coach in John Tortorella who has won the Stanley Cup before, but that was way back in 2004. Tortorella has done almost nothing since. The Capitals have Barry Trotz who is known as a coach who flops in the playoffs.
This series is going to be decided in goal. The Blue Jackets have Sergei Bobrovsky, while the Capitals are going with Phillipp Grubauer as their top choice. If Grubauer plays well the Capitals will win this series. He took over from Braden Holtby down the stretch and was great. If he holds his own against Bobrovsky then the Capitals will win. It is interesting to note that Bobrovsky has not played well in the playoffs in the past with a .908 and .882 save percentage the last two times Columbus has made the playoffs.
The Blue Jackets were poor on special teams this season and it could be a huge problem in this series. They were just 25th on the power play and only 26th in penalty killing. The Capitals have Ovechkin to lead a power play that was 7th in the league and their penalty killing was 15th in the league.
The Capitals won three of the four regular season meetings against Columbus and Washington has owned Columbus in Washington, winning 8 of the last 10. Three of the last four in Washington have gone over the total.
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I really don’t get all of this love for Columbus in this series against the Capitals. I know the Capitals have been perennial playoff chokers, but what has Columbus done? The Capitals were the better team in the regular season and they have owned Columbus in Washington. I will lay the price and take the Capitals on Sunday night.
NHL Odds: Capitals 4, Blue Jackets 2
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