While sports betting experts debate the newest March madness odds, the NHL races towards the playoffs with the lower-tiered teams fighting for their playoff lives. At the top of the heap are many of the same teams that were top contenders last year. At the very top of the price per head odds for winning the Stanley Cup are the Washington Capitals and the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
Right now the Capitals are 9 to 2 favorites win the Stanley Cup and the Penguins are 5 to 1 favorites to defend their title. Over that past three seasons the Capitals have steadily improved, mostly in the offensive departments. The Caps will go beyond 300 goals for this season which eclipses their mark from last year of 272. When it comes to the President’s Trophy the Capitals are running away with the award as they sit nine points in front of the Chicago Blackhawks and the surging Phoenix Coyotes. But the Caps were a strong regular season team last year until inexperienced goal tending did them in during the playoffs.
Last year the Capitals were regular season monsters that were tamed in the playoffs by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins proved last year that they learned a lot when they lost in the finals to the Red Wings the year before. They learned how to win in the regular season just enough to be sharp in the playoffs.
The Capitals need to learn that lesson. Washington goaltender Semyon Varlamov is healthy again and splitting time with Jose Theodore. It is unclear what direction the Capitals are going with this, but if they stick with Varlamov that could be a mistake. He is young and was injured all season. Theodore got the Capitals to where they are and he should be the guy to finish the job.
The big difference between the Capitals and the Penguins is that the Capitals have been getting solid goal tending along with the most potent offense in the league by far. The Capitals have only lost four games in regulation all season long. They play hard at home, and they play to win.
The Penguins have a 21-14-2 record on the road, but Evgeni Malkin is injured and may not play this game. That takes a lot away from the Penguins.
The Capitals are tough at home and are gearing up for another playoff run. The Penguins need this game but go in without their power forward. This game comes down to goaltending.
Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2
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