Categories: NHL

Washington Capitals vs Vegas Golden Knights – NHL Game 1 Pick

On Monday, the Stanley Cup Finals drop the puck with an exciting matchup between the Washington Capitals and the Vegas Golden Knights. This series promises to be an exciting one with two very different teams. The Golden Knights have captured the hockey world, and the sports betting industry, with their historic run as an expansion team. We’ve never seen anything like this before in the history of all 4 major professional sports leagues. The Capitals are led by one of this generation’s greatest talents, and a future HOF player, Alex Ovechkin who brings a team with him that is determined to win their first Cup ever.

This is the first appearance in the Finals for Washington since 1998. They went on the road in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals to eliminate the favored Tampa Bay Lightning. They’ve proven to be a resilient team after falling behind in two playoff series and having to vanquish their longtime arch nemesis the Pittsburgh Penguins in-between.

Ovechkin has been stellar in the postseason with 12 goals and 22 total points. He’s also done it on defense with many game changing hits that either turned the tide for Washington or set the tone for the rest of his teammates to follow. His line mates Backstom and Kuznetsov have stepped up their games to help Washington’s offense become elite in the post season. In fact, Kuznetsov leads the Capitals with 24 points in the playoffs.

For Vegas, it all comes down to their defense and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who has been amazing this postseason with a .947 save percentage and just 1.68 goals allowed per game. He’s also had 4 shutouts in the playoffs and is on a tear through the NHL history books. Additionally, Fleury is the frontrunner for the Conn Smythe Trophy, which is given out to the best player of the postseason.

Washington’s Braden Holtby will have to play at an elite level to match Fleury and for the Capitals to have a realistic shot at winning the series. Holtby is coming in red hot with 2 straight shutouts, a 2.04 goals allowed, and a .924 save percentage. When he is on, the Capitals are nearly impossible to beat.

Vegas may have the advantage on defense and in the net, but they do lack the firepower and depth compared to Washington. In other words, Vegas will have to withstand wave after wave of Washington players and shots.

The Golden Knights are well rested after having 8 days off. Typically, that should help a team in a series, but let’s not forget that they were well rested coming into the Winnipeg series and lost the opening game before winning 4 straight. However, I think they will learn from the mistakes of that game and take advantage of their home ice by winning Game 1 of the Finals.

Vegas is 6-1 SU at home in the playoffs and have outscored their opponents 25-12 during those 7 games. Even more impressive is the fact that they’re only allowing 1.71 gpg at home and scoring 3.57 gpg. With that said, Washington has gone 8-2 SU on the road in the playoffs and are 15-3 in their last 18 road games. The Capitals are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 road games and 7-2 ATS in their last 9 overall games. However, Washington is 2-5 in their last 7 against the Pacific Division and 0-4 in their last 4 Stanley Cup Finals games.

The Golden Knights are 4-0 SU in their last 4 games, 4-0 SU in their last 4 Monday games, 15-1 SU in their last 16 home games against a winning road team, 34-12 SU at home this year, 5-2 SU in their last 7 games on 3 or more days rest, and 4-1 SU in their last 5 games following a previous win.

Until we see how these two teams actually play against each other on the ice, I’m going with the better goalie and the home ice advantage for this game. Taking Vegas moneyline (-140) at home.

Rick Rockwell

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Rick Rockwell

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