Over the last two nights I have found some really interesting ways to lose my picks. Wednesday we lost one thanks to a last-second regulation goal by Tampa Bay, and last night I lost the UNDER 5 between the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild as the two teams combined for four goals in the last five minutes of the hockey game. Patrick Kane scored from a bad angle and soon after Marion Hossa would add a shorthanded empty netter to make the game 4-1. At that point we are still at a push which is fine, however out of absolutely no where Minnesota scored two goals in less than a minute and actually almost tied the game in the dying seconds. Minnesota scored two goals over the previous 175 minutes of play and then sank our pick by scoring two in less than a minute. Simply unbelievable. I can’t remember such an unlucky stretch in my life doing these picks so I’m not going reflect and it any more, rather I will take a look at the two games on tonight’s schedule and find us a winner to help ease the hurt.
Washington Capitals @ New York Rangers
My Pick – CAPITALS (+150)
Not many people would have believed the Rangers and Capitals would be playing Game 5 at Madison Square Garden with the Capitals having the opportunity to eliminate the President Trophy winning Rangers in just five games. Thanks to a new rock solid defensive system implemented by Barry Trotz, the Capitals can shock the hockey world tonight and move on to the Eastern Conference final, something that they haven’t done since the 1998 season. In 18 tries being down 3-1, the Rangers have won just one of those series and that actually came last year against the Pittsburgh Penguins, so it’s not over yet but they must find a way through the Washington defense which has proven to be an unenviable task this postseason. The Rangers averaged 3.02 goals in the regular season but in these playoffs they have scored just 1.78 per game, the worst number of any of the second-round teams this postseason. They haven’t been able to solve the Capitals penalty kill either as Washington is killing off penalties at a 95.6% clip in the playoffs, and as the old saying goes, your best penalty killer needs to be your goaltender and that has definitely been the case with the Capitals. Braden Holtby usually saves his best stuff for the postseason as we have seen in the past but this year he is playing at a whole other level. His 1.48 goals against average leads the playoffs to go along with a sparkling .950 save percentage, also leading the playoffs for a goalie with more than three starts. He has been simply sensational and a huge reason why the Capitals find themselves in such an enviable spot here tonight. Thanks to Holtby’s strong play, the Rangers have just about everyone going through a goal scoring slump at the same time as they have received minimal contributions from some of their most seasoned of playoff skaters. Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis have combined for one goals and nine points in 18 games in the postseason while strong regular season performers Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello have combined for two goals and four points in 14 games. Compare those numbers to that of Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom as that duo has combined for seven goals and 15 points in 22 games, something that is impressive given the low-scoring nature of the games in this series. Washington has seven skaters with two or more goals in the playoffs while New York has just four, and they have three with 3+ goals compared to just one for the Rangers. While another close, low-scoring game can be expected, I see no value in taking the Rangers tonight and no reason why Washington can’t close this thing out. Take the Capitals at a fantastic price to eliminate the beast in the East in their home arena.