The Washington Capitals are in a desperate situation as they host the New York Rangers in the only NHL Playoff game on Saturday. The puck will drop at 12:30 p.m. (ET).
Let’s first update the odds for the only Friday night game, Phoenix at Nashville in Game 4 at 7:30 p.m. (ET). The Predators are 160 favorites after a 2-0 home win on Wednesday and partially avenging the opening two losses in the desert. The total is five and shaded to the ‘under.’
Nashville coach Barry Trotz was looking for a team spark and he may have gotten it with the suspensions of forwards Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn. Both players will sit tonight as well, as Trotz doesn’t want to change the Game 3 success.
Don Best Sports analyst Brian Blessing is in complete agreement with Trotz to hold the two forwards out of Game 4, invoking the old "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" motto.
The Predators are also hoping goalie Pekka Rinne is back on track after stopping all 32 shots on Wednesday. His save percentage in Phoenix was just 85.7 percent (54-of-63).
Switching back to Washington and New York, this series has been very close-fought, especially considering the triple overtime affair on Wednesday. The Rangers won 2-1, with the struggling Marian Gaborik coming through with the game-winner. Washington can’t afford to lose on Saturday and head back to the Big Apple down 3-1 in games.
The Capitals are listed as 115 home favorites and a total of 4½, shaded to the ‘over.’ They do need to stop squandering their home games, now just 1-3 in the playoffs, compared to 4-2 away. The Rangers are 3-1 on the road, but Blessing likes Washington in this one.
The Caps do have a couple of things going for them. The first is that 22-year-old goalie Braden Holtby has played well the last two games and isn’t being overmatched against New York’s Henrik Lundqvist.
Coach Dale Hunter’s guys have also been resilient in these playoffs, going 4-0 after a loss. We’ll see if that trend continues on Saturday.
Note the odds for two Sunday games (and the two remaining series) have just been released. Los Angeles is a 135 home favorite over St. Louis as it gets the brooms ready for a sweep. The total is 4½ and shaded to the ‘over.’
New Jersey is 115 home chalk over Philadelphia. The Devils lead that series 2-1 after winning (4-3) in overtime on Thursday night. The total is 5½ with the ‘under' (-150) and Blessing has been on the ‘over’ bandwagon in this series since the beginning.