The Capitals have been the top team in the NHL since the season started back in October.
They clinched the Presidents’ Trophy with two weeks to go in the season and are the overwhelming favorite at +418 to win their first Stanley Cup. Getting a win in the series opener with Philadelphia is a start.
Stanley Cup Playoff Odds at BookMaker.eu.
Philadelphia Flyers +170
Washington Capitals -200
The Capitals set a franchise record for wins and finished 11 points better than Dallas to claim the Presidents’ Trophy with the NHL’s best regular season record. The Caps were so dominant this year they wrapped up the best record with two weeks remaining in the season. On cruise control, Washington went 3-3-3 down the stretch, but is still the overwhelming favorite to win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Playing the series opener as a big underdog at +170, the Flyers have nothing to lose and have been in playoff mode for the past few weeks, locking up the second wild card spot in the East on the final weekend of the season. Philadelphia defied expectations by making an astounding push to the postseason and will have to beat big odds if they want to advance beyond the first round.
For the Flyers to have any chance in the series Steve Mason will have to play brilliantly in net – and that’s exactly what he’s done down the stretch. Mason started 17 of Philly’s final 18 games. In 12 March starts – when the Flyers made their biggest playoff push – Mason went 8-2-2 with a 1.88 goals against average and .933 save percentage.
Mason has been one of the Flyers’ brightest stars on this playoff quest from Feb. 25, a 22-game stretch that saw Philly jump Carolina, New Jersey, Ottawa, Boston and even Detroit to capture the East’s second wild card bid.
It’s not hard to see why the Capitals were so imposing this season. Braden Holtby should be a lock to win the Vezina Trophy for best goaltender, and should be a finalist for the Hart Trophy for league MVP.
Holtby put together and outstanding 48-9-7 record, tying Martin Brodeur for the most wins in a single-season, with a 2.20 GAA and a .922 save percentage.
Teams have tried to slow down Alex Ovechkin but it just hasn’t worked. The Great 8 reached the 50-goal plateau this season in dramatic fashion, with a hat trick during Saturday’s 5-1 win against St. Louis. It’s the seventh time in his career that Ovechkin has reached that milestone, making him just the third player in NHL history to accomplish that feat. He joined Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy, who both scored 50 goals nine times.
Since the Flyers will likely focus on containing the Caps’ top line of Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, it’s fair to assume second-line center Evgeny Kuznetsov will continue his dominant season. He finished with 20 goals and 57 assists in 82 games, adding a scoring punch when the top unit is slowed.
The Flyers don’t have the scoring power to compete with Washington so expect them to do a lot of clutching and grabbing to try and slow the Caps offensive surge. Philly has been playing playoff hockey for the last month trying to grab a playoff spot and they completed the task Saturday with a win over Pittsburgh. The Caps, on the other hand, have been cruising the last few weeks with the top record already locked up.
When given chances the Flyers must capitalize if they want to get a victory. Convert their odd-man rushes and take advantage of power play opportunities. Holtby has slammed the door on everyone this season and there’s no reason to think the playoffs will be any different. The Caps have to get used to playing games that mean something. They start sluggish against a determined Flyers squad, but pull away in the end.
NHL Odds: Washington 5, Philadelphia 2
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BookMaker's live betting platform means you always have access to odds and lines to every sporting event. Click here, and start wagering today! The puck drops for Game 1 of the series between the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals at 7 p.m. ET at Verizon Center. The game will be televised live on NBCSN.