NHL Playoffs Picks Saturday 4/28: Caps Rangers, Kings Blues
NHL Playoffs Picks and Predictions, Second Round Game One, Saturday 4/28: Washington Capitals at New York Rangers, LA Kings at St. Louis Blues
The Washington Capitals and New York Rangers start a rematch of last year’s first round matchup thanks to brilliant play from Holtby and Lundqvist. The Kings and Blues, two more teams anchored by their goaltending and defense, also do battle. Look for goaltending to be the deciding factor in these two series, as no team has a particularly dynamic offense.
In backwoods Florida, where the internet is a sin and there ain’t a bar or resty-raunt that e’er hearda hockey, let alone NBC Sports Network, I’m relegated to a McDonald’s about five miles up the road to get my writing and gambling in on a free WiFi connection. I think I’ve found the only internet in north Florida. My stream of the Preds Coyotes game is choppy, and my patience is thin. Still, nothing can ruin the buzz I’m feeling from witnessing the double-overtime Game Seven Panthers Devils game on Thursday.
We hit all three series bets we placed in the first round (Rangers, Devils, Blues). Still, my bracket is hurting a little. The Preds-Coyotes matchup I dreamed up for the Western Conference Finals is happening a round too early, and my Devils have to go through the Flyers and Rangers to get to the Cup. The NHL Playoffs are as volatile as ever, and I’m just happy my conference winners are still alive. We went 30-18 in the first round, and hopefully the second round is just as profitable.
Washington Capitals at New York Rangers (-160)
I like the Rangers to win this series because I’m drooling about the Atlantic Division match ups that this year’s postseason could display. The Flyers have already eliminated the Penguins, the Devils and Flyers play in the second round, and the Rangers could await the winner. Try to tell me that isn’t just the sexiest display of divisional prowess.
As such, I probably have to like the Rangers to win the first game. New York has several key advantages on the Caps, though I’m not very confident in any of them at the moment. Ultimately, this series spells disaster for the overly-ambitious gambler, and I’ll be going small here and just enjoying myself.
The Rangers have a goalie advantage, but it’s not nearly as clear as it might have been a week ago. Braden Holtby is playing out of his inexperienced mind right now and was one of the key reasons the defending champions are no longer in the postseason. The prospect could spark an upset in the second round.
Sure, Henrik Lundqvist had an incredible regular season, but his Rangers have found a way to do absolutely nothing throughout the prime of his career. It’s hard to say, with absolutely certainty, that Hank will be a big enough difference in this series to take out a streaking Washington Capitals team.
I think New York is the better team and I’ll put my money behind it, but with very limited confidence.
Rangers 3 – Caps 2
LA Kings at St. Louis Blues (-160)
The LA Kings took out the Vancouver Canucks in the first round, but the Kings were the fortunate benefactors of Vancouver misfortunes. The Canucks were without Daniel Sedin for most of the series, which renders Henrik Sedin about as lost as Roberto Luongo, who should never start another playoff game in his life. Luckily, if he goes to Toronto, he never will. Ultimately, I’m only moderately impressed by the Kings’ upset win in the first round.
On the other hand, the St. Louis Blues dominated their respective perennial contender. The Sharks won the first game of the series in double overtime, thanks in large part to some questionable officiating, and never sniffed another win the rest of the series. The Blues are rolling.
Both teams have a great defense and the goaltending in this series is about as good as the NHL has to offer. The Kings have more recognizable offensive weapons, but the Blues have better chemistry and a better system. Both teams have some amount of momentum, but the Blues have home ice. I think that’s enough to tip the scales.
Blues 2 – Kings 1
Playoffs: 30-18, Preds pending
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