It’s a chalk Eastern Conference Finals in the Stanley Cup playoffs as Atlantic Division champion Tampa Bay faces Metropolitan Division winner Washington. Game 1 of what should be a terrific, high-scoring series is Friday night in Tampa with the Bolts as NHL odds favorites for that game and the series.
How to Bet Capitals at Lightning NHL Odds & Game 1 InfoWhen: Friday, 8 PM ETWhere: Amalie Arena, TampaTV: NBC Sports NetworkStream: NHL.tvRadio: 106.7 FM (Washington) / 620 AM (Tampa Bay)Opening NHL Odds: Tampa -175, Washington +158 (6)
Season SeriesIt’s the first playoff matchup between the teams since the 2011 Eastern Conference semifinals, in which Tampa Bay surprised favored Washington in a sweep. The Lightning would lose in the conference finals to Boston, which beat Vancouver for the Stanley Cup.During the regular season, Tampa won the series 2-1. The lone game in Florida was way back on Oct. 9, a 4-3 Bolts overtime victory. Brayden Point scored on a power play in overtime, and Tampa Bay held Caps star Alex Ovechkin pointless. Point redirected Nikita Kucherov’s shot at 3:08 that came after the Capitals were assessed a too many men on the ice penalty.On Nov. 24, the Caps won 3-1 at home. Ovechkin scored and Philipp Grubauer stopped 25 shots. Grubauer won’t play in this series barring an injury to Braden Holtby. Finally, on Feb. 20 the Lightning won 4-2. Point sandwiched two goals around a tally by Chris Kunitz to make it 3-0 after the first period. That proved to be enough of a cushion for goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who stopped 35 shots.On this series line, the Lightning are -190 and Caps +165.
Why Bet on Washington’s NHL Odds?Many droughts ended on Monday when the Capitals knocked off their nemesis Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 in overtime in Game 6 to end that series and assure the NHL would not have a three-peat champion for the first time since the early 1980. Evgeny Kuznetsov’s goal in overtime propelled Washington to its their first championship-round series in 20 years.Ovechkin, a Top-10 player all time, had played in 1,003 regular-season games and 109 playoff games without advancing beyond the Eastern Conference semifinals. Ovechkin won Game 3 in Pittsburgh with a goal with 1:07 left in regulation. He assisted on Kuznetsov’s goal in Game 6, springing his linemate for the breakaway tally. Ovechkin has 15 points in 12 playoff games for the Capitals.
Who’s Injured in the Capitals Squad?Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom did not play in Game 6 because of an upper body injury and is day-to-day. It is not known if he will be ready for Friday’s Game 1 in Tampa. Backstrom left in the third period of Game 5 with the injury. Backstrom is third on the Capitals with 13 points (three goals, team-leading 10 assists) in the postseason. With the health of Backstrom a question mark, Eller will play on the second line until he is ready to return.First-line winger Tom Wilson missed a third straight game while serving a suspension for his high hit on Pittsburgh’s Zach Aston-Reese in Game 2, but Wilson will be good to go in Game 1.
Why Bet on Tampa Bay’s NHL Lines?The Bolts are in the conference finals for the third time in four seasons. In 2015, they beat the Rangers in the East Finals but lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games in the Stanley Cup Finals. The next year, Tampa Bay lost in the East Finals to Pittsburgh, blowing a chance to win Game 6 at home. Tampa missed the playoffs a year ago.The Lightning had the most points in the East during the regular season and have looked the part in the playoffs. They eliminated New Jersey in five games in the first round. In Round 2, Boston won Game 1 6-2 in Tampa but the Bolts took the next four. They clinched with a 3-1 home win last Sunday.The second-line trio of Brayden Point, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat has been a two-headed monster in the playoffs. They have combined for 11 goals and 12 assists, while helping the Lightning shut down the top line of the opposition. Point’s line is expected to be matched up against Alex Ovechkin’s combination in the Eastern Conference Finals.
How Has Stamkos Been So Far in the Playoffs?Steven Stamkos will take a three-game point streak into the East Finals. Stamkos has two goals and two assists during that span. The combination of Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov (team’s leading scorer) and J.T. Miller has exactly been firing on all cylinders in the postseason, but they have made contributions.The Lightning have a lot in common with the Penguins‘ two most recent championship teams: star power, the ability to roll four lines and a tremendous presence in net. But there is one thing Tampa Bay is not good at, and that’s killing penalties. Tampa Bay’s penalty kill ranked 27th in the NHL during the regular season (76.1 percent). Tampa Bay has allowed eight goals on 31 power plays (74.2 percent kill percentage) in the playoffs. That’s where Washington might have an edge.Washington scored on 55 of its 244 opportunities during the regular season (22.5 percent, seventh best in the league) and has converted on 13 of 42 (31 percent) of its postseason opportunities. The Capitals will be facing the Vezina Trophy finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy, who has been the backbone of Tampa’s incredible season. After struggling in the second half of the regular season, the Russian has found his second wind in the playoffs with a 2.20 GAA and .927 save percentage.
Latest NHL Odds Trends
- Washington is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games
- Washington is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
- The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Washington’s last 6 games
- Tampa Bay is 6-1 ATS in its last 7 games
- Tampa Bay is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games
- The total has gone OVER in 14 of Tampa Bay’s last 20 games when playing Washington