Free Picks: Bruins vs. Capitals, 2021 Stanley Cup Round 1

Boston Bruins vs Washington Capitals NHL Stanley Cup 2021 Round 1
Boston Bruins vs. Washington Capitals: Bruins won series, 4-1

Series Results: Bruins won, 4-1

The Boston Bruins eliminated the Washington Capitals with a 3-1 win on Sunday in Game 5 to capture the Stanley Cup first-round series four games to one. The Bruins play the winner of the series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders. The Capitals outshot the Bruins 41-19 in Game 5. But Washington was undone by its power play all series. They were 0-for-4 with the man advantage in Game 5 and 3-for-21 in the series (14.3%).  The Bruins were led by David Pastrnak, who had two goals and four assists in the series.

Game 1, Saturday, May 15, Capital One Arena

May 15, 7:15 p.m., Capital One Arena

This is going to be a meaningful series for Capitals defenseman Zdeno Chara, who left the Bruins to sign a one-year contract on Dec. 30. The former captain of the Bruins is 44, so it’s hard to say how much of a factor he will be, but he won’t let the Bruins get away with too much rough stuff.

The Capitals also have toughness in Tom Wilson. With both Brad Marchand and Wilson on the ice together, this is going to get physical.

The best sports today is taking the Bruins on the Money Line (-130) with 10Bet because they are the perfect blend of skill and toughness. The Bruins are 6-4 SU in their last 10, although the Capitals are at home with fans in the building, so if you’re feeling it for the home side, take the Capitals (+110) on the Money Line with 10Bet, although it’s a riskier play. But they are 7-3 SU in their last 10 games.

I think this is going to be a physical series and the Bruins won’t be pushed around. And this was a challenging year for Alex Ovechkin. I’m not sure how much he has left in the tank.

Ovechkin may surprise me because he’s such a clutch scorer in the playoffs. He will be hungry again because he hasn’t won a playoff round since 2018 when the Capitals won the Stanley Cup. It was a challenging year for Ovechkin, who missed a career-high 11 games, including four games due to Covid protocols and another seven with a lower-body injury. But he still led the team with 24 goals in the regular season.

Both the Bruins and Capitals improved themselves with trade acquisitions at the deadline. The Capitals landed Anthony Mantha from Detroit and he’s another big body. The Bruins didn’t stand pat either. They picked up former league MVP Taylor Hall from the Buffalo Sabres, and the Bruins have been a different team since acquiring him.

For my Free Picks and predictions, I think there will be a lot of goals in this series, especially on the power play because I expect a lot of penalties, so I’m taking the Over (5.5) with 10Bet (+101). The Under (-122) is a safer bet because the total has gone Under in five of Washington’s last six games at home.

The NHL odds favor the Bruins (-1.5) as the visiting team (+194) on the Puck Line with 10Bet. This is a risky bet, but I think the Bruins can cover on this one. Boston is 6-4 ATS in their last 10 games. I also think Washington is the weaker of the two teams in goal.  Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov have never played an NHL postseason game.

The Bruins have more playoff experience in goal in Tuukka Rask, and goaltending takes on much more importance during the playoffs. Boston’s defense was ranked No. 5 in the league while the Capitals had trouble keeping the puck out of their net. They were ranked No. 17 in goals allowed per game.

Offensively, the Bruins have been getting lots of good production of late out of Patrice Bergeron, while T.J. Oshie has been the hottest player on the Capitals. The Bruins and Capitals split their eight games in the regular season.


Game 2 (Capitals lead 1-0)

May 17, 7:30 p.m., Capital One Arena

Anderson was a surprise playoff performer in Game 1. At almost 40, he had played only four regular-season games and started only two prior to Game 1. But he’s a money performer. He’s 12-5 in overtime games, including 4-1 against the Bruins.

The offensive part of the game was missing for Boston. The power play was 1-for-4. Boston now has to battle the percentages. Teams that win Game 1 have gone on to win a best-of-seven series 68.8% of the time, including 7-1 in the first round last season.

Washington forward T.J. Oshie, who entered the game with a lower-body injury, was forced down the tunnel at one point after either aggravating his injury in the first period, or suffering a new one. He was able to return to the game.

The best sports bet today is taking Boston Straight up, Washington on the Puck Line and the Under in total goals. For my Free Picks, I’m taking Boston (+120) on the Money Line with Betway. The Bruins are only 6-14 Straight Up in their last 20 games against Washington, but I don’t see that imbalance continuing.

I’m taking the Bruins to win Game 2, by a 3-2 score, and tie the series 1-1, even though Washington is 5-1 SU in their last six games.

I am concerned about Washington’s goaltending situation after the injury to Vitek Vanecek in Game 1. Ilya Samsonov was not dressed for Saturday’s game. He has been on the NHL’s Covid protocol list, but was removed on Saturday. Center Evgeny Kuznetsov also did not dress Saturday. He remains on the Covid list.

Going into Game 2, the NHL odds favor the Bruins (-1.5) on the Puck Line. That market is a riskier play (+190) with Betway, but it offers a big reward. (Bet $100 to win $190). The implied odds suggest only a 34% chance of the Bruins covering. Boston is 6-4 Against the Spread in their last 10 games.

I think there is better value in taking Washington (+1.5) on the Puck Line (-240) with Betway because the Capitals may lose, but it should be close. Washington is 5-5 ATS in their last 10 games.

The total has gone Under in five of Boston’s last six games on the road. And the total has gone Under in four of Washington’s last five games. So the play here is to take the Under (5.5) at (-145) with Betway. But the biggest reward, and risk, is taking the Over (+125) because you can expect both offenses to come alive at some point in the series.



Game 3 (Series tied 1-1)

May 19, 6:30 p.m., TD Garden

The Bruins are the No. 3 seed in the East Division, while the Capitals are the No. 2 seed. Both games have gone to OT so far and it looks like this is going to be a long series.

Boston came out with more urgency after losing Game 1. Tuukka Rask made 36 saves (.923 save percentage) for the Bruins while Craig Anderson had the busier time in net for Washington, making 44 saves for a .917 save percentage.

I wondered how Anderson would handle himself after he made 21 saves in relief of the injured Vitek Vanecek in Game 1, helping the Capitals take a 1-0 lead in the series. Anderson turns 40 on Friday and hasn’t seen a lot of high-pressure games lately.

In Game 2, he made his first start in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2017.

Injuries are something to pay attention to before you lay down a bet. For Washington, center Lars Eller left the game at 10:34 of the second period due to a lower-body injury. With the team already missing Evgeny Kuznetsov due to a COVID-related absence, the Capitals are starting to get thin at center.

Goaltender Ilya Samsonov took part in an optional skate after being removed from the NHL’s Covid protocol list, so he’s not ready yet.

The best sports bet today is taking the Bruins on the Money Line (-165) with 10Bet. It’s one of the safest bets you can make on the main markets. The Bruins are 8-1 Straight Up in their last nine games at home.

If you’re feeling it for Washington, the Capitals are 7-1 SU in their last eight games on the road but go lightly here (+135) with 10Bet for a bigger payout but more risk (bet $100 to win $135).

The NHL playoff odds favor the Bruins. I just can’t see another overtime goal in a row. For my Free Picks, I’m taking Boston to win 3-2. I think Boston forward David Pastrnak comes alive. He’s got 10 shots on goal in two games, but no goals yet.

On the Puck Line, my lean would be to Washington (+1.5) with 10Bet (-188), which is the safest bet of all the main markets.

For my NHL picks, I am taking the Under (5.5) with 10Bet (-128). The total has gone Under in four of Washington’s last five games and I don’t see this trend changing now.



Game 4 (Bruins lead series 2-1)

May 21, 6:30 p.m., TD Garden

Teams that win Game 3 after a best-of-seven series is tied 1-1 have gone on to win the series 67.6% of the time, so the pressure is clearly on the Capitals for Game 4 on Friday in Boston. All three games have gone to overtime.

Samsonov was rusty, having not played since May 1. But he was in good form most of the game, making 40 saves and keeping the Capitals in the game. Samsonov has been the third goalie used by Washington in this series following appearances by Vitek Vanecek (injured) and Craig Anderson.

Tuukka Rask made 35 saves in the Boston net and looked comfortable while the forwards and defense took care of the little details that are so important in a close series.

The Capitals are missing forward Lars Eller to injury. Forward Evgeny Kuznetsov was inserted in Game 3 and had only one shot on net in 26:41 of ice time. He hadn’t played since May 1. And T.J. Oshie is still not looking 100%. He’s dealing with some kind of lower-body injury.

For the Bruins, Taylor Hall has now found the back of the net in back-to-back games and in both cases they were game-tying goals. He’s been taking the pressure off the No. 1 line. Brad Marchand, who tied the game 2-2, must be stopped for Washington to have a chance.

For my BetPicks selection, I’m looking at the Puck Line, the Money Line and total goals for Game 4. I’m going out on a limb with my Picks and predictions and predict Boston is going to win 4-2 on Friday.

The NHL odds favor Boston (-1.5) on the Puck Line and this is a risky bet, but it comes with a big return (+156) with 10Bet (Bet $100 to win $156). I think Boston can win by two goals to pay off on this market.

Since Washington is desperate, I think they come out with their best game in Game 4, so if you believe they can turn things around, taking the Capitals (+140) on the Money Line with 10Bet will give you a good return.. Washington is 4-1 Straight Up in their last five games on the road.

And the third riskiest bet to make is taking the Over (5.5) with 10Bet (+101) because I’m calling for at least six goals. The Under (-128) is more likely to happen, according to implied odds of 56%. The total has gone Under in five of Washington’s last six games.

The safest bets, which come with lower returns, are with Boston on the Money Line (-175) and Washington (+1.5) on the Puck Line (-201) with 10Bet.

Boston is 9-1 SU in their last 10 games at home. And on the Puck Line, the Capitals are 3-0 Against The Spread (ATS) on the road in their last 10 games, so that’s worth a look.



Game 5 (Bruins lead series 3-1)

May 23, 07:00 p.m.,  Capital One Arena

Game 5 goes on Sunday in Washington. Teams that are 3-1 are 291-29 (.909) winning a best-of-seven series, including 13-0 last season.

Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask made 19 saves and posted a .950 save percentage for his 54th NHL postseason victory, passing Gerry Cheevers for the most in Bruins history.

Ilya Samsonov made 33 saves for Washington, but his save percentage (.892) was just not good enough to get the job done.

The Bruins were 3-for-5 on the power play. The Capitals were 1-for-7.

The Bruins’ depth showed on the scoreboard, with four different players scoring — Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Charlie Coyle and defenseman Matt Grzelcyk. Alex Ovechkin scored his second of the series for Washington.

Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller was taken to hospital after he was injured at 7:27 of the second period by a hit from Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov.

Capitals forward Lars Eller, who missed Game 3 due to a lower-body injury, played 14:53, replacing Daniel Carr, and had one shot and two hits.

Washington had an 18:40 stretch spanning the first and second periods without a shot on goal.

For my BetPicks, I am looking at Puck Line, the Money Line and the Over/Under markets.

When I’m making my Picks and predictions, I often like to project a final score. I see Washington making a desperate push to prolong the series, but I think the Bruins win 3-2.

The NHL game odds favor the Bruins (-1.5) on the Puck Line (+186) with 10Bet. That is a risky play. I think taking Washington (+1.5) with the Puck Line (-243) is the safest bet.

Washington will probably play their best game of the series on Sunday and if you think they’ve got a better than 50% chance of winning, I would consider taking the Capitals on the Money Line (+110) with 10Bet (Bet $100 to win $110).

The implied odds suggest a 48% chance of Washington winning Straight Up.

But on the Money Line, I’m leaning toward Boston on the Money Line (-130) with 10Bet. It is a safer bet. Boston is 6-3 SU in their last nine games against Washington.

On the Over/Under (5.5), the safest play is the Under (-133) while the Over (+105) has implied odds of 48% in favor of at least six goals. The total has gone Under in four of Boston’s last five games.




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I live in the land of ice and snow in Toronto, Canada's largest city. I can't skate very well, but I know sports, especially hockey, after a long career writing about the Toronto Maple Leafs and other teams at the country's largest newspaper, the Toronto Star. Betting on sports can be a rewarding experience when you understand the trends and underlying characteristics of the teams and players before laying down a bet. That's how I hope to point you in the right direction.