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NHL handicapper Jason Yamaguchi gives us his best bet for Sunday's matchup between the Bruins and the Capitals. The puck drops at 1:30 pm ET today on TNT.
ANALYSIS

Washington Capitals vs. Boston Bruins Prediction: Expect a Strong Showing From the Bruins

Saturday was an eventful day in the NHL—the Rangers and Maple Leafs clinched playoff berths, multiple teams came from behind to win, and the Capitals defeated the Penguins in a game that may prove momentous in the race for higher seeding. The Capitals will now return home from Pittsburgh for a Sunday clash with the Bruins, one of seven NHL games on the docket. Both teams are currently priced around even money, but that should not be the case. Here's why.

Capitals vs. Bruins Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

Date: Saturday, April 9

Game Time: 1:30 pm ET

Where to Watch: TNT

Puck Line: Bruins -1.5 (+200)

Click Here for Capitals vs Bruins Odds

Capitals vs. Bruins Line Movement

Washington Capitals vs. Boston Bruins Prediction

The Capitals (39-22-10) are 4-4 in their last eight games, and have been unable to string together more than two straight wins. They did win their last two with strong performances against the Lightning and Penguins, so perhaps they will get their third straight here. Yesterday's win over Pittsburgh held particular significance because it pulled Washington to within four points of the Penguins with two games in hand. If the Capitals can take third place from the Penguins, they will draw a playoff matchup with the second-place finisher in the Metro. Washington would much prefer that to their current (projected) matchup, so they will be treating every game moving forward as an effective playoff game.

In stark contrast to the Capitals, the Bruins (45-21-5) have been one of the league's more consistent teams. They have been out-chancing their opponents on a regular basis, which is the mark of a top team. Boston is 11-3 in their last 14, with two of the losses coming on the ends of back-to-backs. They are fighting for playoff positioning with the Leafs and Lightning, so this game is of utmost importance to them as well.

The Bruins' biggest strength this year has been their play at even strength, at both ends of the ice. Their 5v5 expected goals share of 56.51% ranks second in the NHL, trailing only the Panthers. It isn't difficult to see why they rank so highly in this category—their first line ranks first among all NHL forward lines with a 64.4% expected goals share, and their top defensive pairing ranks first among all pairings with a share of 69.1%. In other words, they have arguably the best forward line and the best defensive pairing in the league. The Capitals, who rank 15th with a 5v5 expected goals share of 50.23%, cannot match that.

Boston also has superior special teams to Washington, despite the fact that the Capitals' power play has improved since earlier in the year. The Bruins' power play has a conversion rate of 22.9%, which ranks 10th amongst all NHL teams. The Capitals trail in 20th—their power play has converted 20% of its opportunities. The gap between the two teams' penalty kills is smaller; the Bruins have the 8th best kill in terms of kill rate, while the Capitals have the 11th best.

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The one factor that swings in Washington's favor is Pastrnak's absence due to injury. However, the Bruins managed to beat the Lightning without him on Friday in an evenly-matched contest. Jake Debrusk replaced Pastrnak on the top line with Bergeron and Marchand; the line registered a whopping 87.4% expected goals share. This demonstrates that they can overcome Pastrnak's absence, even against top competition.

Boston is the superior team on paper. They have logged significantly better results at even strength and on special teams. They are in much better form. They have the rest advantage, especially if you factor in how taxing the game against Pittsburgh was for Washington. All signs point Boston's way, which is why this line is befuddling to me. Maybe the market is overcompensating for the Capitals' last two games, or maybe the line is a trap. Let's hope it's the former and not the latter, but I'm sticking with my process either way. Bet the Bruins down to -125.

Capitals vs. Bruns Pick

Article Author

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Jason Yamaguchi is an avid New York sports fan. He has a proven record of providing +EV bets by combining traditional handicapping tactics with advanced statistics. You can follow him on Twitter @TopMoneyPicks to view all of his bets, including NFL, NHL, and MLB picks.

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