2018 NHL Playoffs: Blue Jackets at Capitals Hockey Odds for Game 1

Posted by Jordan Walters on Wednesday,April 11, 2018 9:39, EDT in

The Washington Capitals were the Presidents’ Trophy winners the past two seasons but they couldn’t get past the second round. The Caps don’t have that burden this season as the Metropolitan Division champions take on Columbus on Thursday night. The Caps are solid Game 1 and series favorites on the Hockey odds.

2018 NHL Playoffs: Blue Jackets at Capitals Hockey Odds for Game 1

When: Thursday, 7:30 PM ET
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington DC
TV: USA Network
Stream: NHL.tv
Radio: 97.1 FM (Columbus) / 106.7 FM (Washington)
Opening Hockey Odds: Capitals -145, Jackets +125 (5.5)

Latest NHL Betting Trends

  • Washington is 50-33 ATS in all games this season
  • Washington is 23-9 ATS revenging a loss versus opponent this season
  • Caps are 42-51 ATS in home games after 3 or more consecutive overs since 1996
  • Columbus is 19-37 ATS when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season over the last 3 seasons
  • Columbus is 37-20 ATS after a non-conference game over the last 2 seasons
  • Blue Jackets are 13-5 ATS in road games after a loss by 2 goals or more in their previous game over the last 2 seasons

Season Series

The Capitals went 3-1-0 against the Jackets, but Columbus won the final game in the regular-season series and enter the playoffs as one of the league’s hottest clubs.

The teams last met on Feb. 26 and the Blue Jackets rolled 5-1. Columbus scored four times in the first period. Seth Jones and Cam Atkinson each had a goal and two assists, and Artemi Panarin had a goal and an assist. Sergei Bobrovsky had 25 saves for the Blue Jackets. Alex Ovechkin scored for Washington. Braden Holtby had 12 saves for the Capitals in the first period, and Philipp Grubauer had 18 in the last two.

Why Bet on Columbus?

The Jackets closed the season with a 4-2 loss in Nashville on Saturday, but there’s no shame in losing to the NHL’s best team on the road. It was also meaningless. Joonas Korpisalo allowed three goals on 26 shots. With the Blue Jackets resting all of their star players, Korpisalo really had no chance to come away from Saturday’s game with the victory against a fully loaded Predators team. The 23-year-old goaltender finished the regular-season with a 8-8-1 record, a 3.32 goals-against-average and a .897 save percentage. He won’t play in the postseason barring injury to Sergei Bobrovsky. He had another solid campaign, including a .921 save percentage and five shutouts.

The Blue Jackets are entering the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time in their franchise’s history. Columbus has now made the playoffs in 2009, 2014, 2017, and 2018. What the Blue Jackets haven’t done yet is win a playoff series.

Nick Foligno (lower body) will play in Game 1 against Washington. Coach John Tortorella said that Foligno will be back at center, but he wasn’t on the top line during Monday’s practice. He skated between Oliver Bjorkstrand and Josh Anderson. Foligno missed the last six games of the year because of a lower-body injury. Markus Nutivaara (upper body) also will be good to go for Game 1 against Washington.

Nutivaara could have played Saturday, but he was held out because the Blue Jackets had already secured a playoff spot.

The trade-deadline addition of winger Thomas Vanek was a game-changer for the Blue Jackets, as he scored 15 points in 19 games, 14 of which came at even strength, finding quick chemistry with Boone Jenner (32 points) and Alexander Wennberg (35).

Why Bet on Washington?

The Capitals closed out the season on an 8-2-0 run to finish at 49-26-7, with a goal differential of plus-20. Alex Ovechkin added another Rocket Richard trophy to his collection, though he was one goal shy of notching 50 for the eighth time in his career. It was Ovechkin’s seventh Rocket Richard win, which highlights his dominance as a goal scorer over his era. The only other player to lead the league in goals in seven seasons was Bobby Hull. Washington’s John Carlson led all defensemen in scoring this season, with 68 points, and skated 24:47 per game.

The season will go down as one to forget for Capitals backstop Braden Holtby, as his .907 save percentage was the worst mark of his career, and that came after the worst postseason of his career, as he finished the 2017 playoff run at .909. Backup Philipp Grubauer had better numbers this season, but has just 78:34 of playoff experience; the team has announced he’ll be the Game 1 starter.

The 26-year-old German started 10 of the final 16 games of the regular season, going 7-3-0 with a 2.32 goals-against average and .925 save percentage. Grubauer’s 2.06 GAA and .933 save percentage are the best among NHL goalies since Oct. 27.

“I just think that Grubi deserves the opportunity,” coach Barry Trotz said Tuesday, a day after telling Grubauer of his decision. “It sort of evolved all year. There wasn’t a date or anything like that. It just evolved and Grubi got more games and a bigger body of work.”

Center Jay Beagle (upper body) wasn’t a participant in the Capitals’ practice on Tuesday. The good news is that Beagle did skate on his own. It remains to be seen if he’ll be available for the Capitals’ playoff opener on Thursday.

Expert NHL Betting Prediction

Washington is my Hockey odds pick to come out of the East and it wins this one by a score of 2-1.