By Charles Jay
As of this writing, HRWager.ag customers can not really be sure which way the Washington Capitals will be going in goal as they get ready to host the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of their East Division NHL playoff series.
That would cause much more distress if the Caps had lost the opening game. But in point of fact, they got an epic performance from a goaltender who, it can be argued, was actually a fourth-stringer.
It was hoped that Ilya Samsonev could be the starter as Washington began the best-of-seven series. But he was unavailable because of COVID protocols. That left things in the hands of rookie Vitek Vanecek, who had a 21-10-4 record and .908 save percentage during the regular season.
But after allowing a Boston goal, Vanecek had to exit the game only 13 minutes into the first period with a groin injury.
That pressed Craig Anderson, who had played only four games in the regular schedule and had been on the Caps’ taxi squad, into service.
Well, all he did was stop 21 of 22 shots and lead the team to a 3-2 win that had to go into overtime.
So who will be between the pipes on Monday night? And did Anderson’s effort possibly affect what coach Peter Laviolette’s decision will be?
Regardless of it, we think we’ve got a winning play. Could this game be the start of something great for those betting Stanley Cup futures?
Game 2 – East Division Playoffs
BOSTON BRUINS at WASHINGTON CAPITALS, 7:35 PM ET (Monday)
NHL Playoff Betting Lines at HRWager.ag
Money Line: Bruins -130 / Capitals +110
Total: Over 5.5 Goals (+120) / Under 5.5 Goals (-140)
Puck Line: Bruins -1.5 Goals (+200) / Capitals +1.5 Goals (-240)
Currently the Caps are a -125 favorite to win the series (Boston is priced at +105).
Samsonev is actually eligible and is back at practice, but it may be a risk at this point because he hasn’t seen the ice in a couple of weeks. Vanecek is characterized as “day today.” Our assumption is that Anderson will see action again.
And that might not be such a bad thing.
Even though he will turn 40 in just a few days, Anderson is, as he joked, “well-rested.” And that answer actually has some value here. Before we move on, we nailed our Grizzlies at Warriors betting preview pick. Go see for yourself.
Anderson also has more playoff experience than anyone the Caps could turn to. In fact, while he was playing for the Ottawa Senators, Anderson beat the Bruins over a six-game series in 2017. The Sens then took Pittsburgh seven games in the East final. For what it’s worth, Anderson’s playoff goals-against is 2.30 with a save percentage of .928.
There is no escaping the fact that the Caps did a tremendous job on defense in Game 1. The Bruins only had 26 shots on goal, and aside from David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy, they only had 15. A big part of this involved the participation of former Bruin Zdeno Chara, who spent more than 19 minutes on the ice.
The Bruins came into the playoffs with a big head of steam; after the acquisition of Taylor Hall they won 12 of 16 games, and Hall had scored 14 points in those games. But what has held consistent almost all season was their defense, which has the fourth-best “expected goals against” and fourth-stingiest opponents’ “Corsi” figure in the NHL.
Boston has also been second best in the league in killing penalties, with only Vegas having a better percentage.
Offensive problems have been a recurring problem for the Bruins, and Anderson is operating with confidence. No doubt Laviolette is more confident in him now as well. Do we have our huge playoff story already? Maybe. For now, we’re on this total.
The Play: UNDER 5.5 GOALS (-140)
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