The Washington Capitals and New York Rangers matchup is the only remaining conference semifinal in an exciting NHL Playoffs.
Washington was able to survive with a 2-1 victory on Wednesday night, the fifth-straight game in the seried decided by one goal. Joel Ward helped kill the Rangers rally late after being the goat in Game 5 with a costly penalty.
The odds are New York -150 for the thrilling Game 7 on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. (ET). The total is 4½ and shaded to the ‘over’ at -135. We’ll have a much bigger preview of this game tomorrow, but Don Best Sports analyst Brian Blessing is siding with the Caps at first glance.
We now turn our attention to the Conn Smythe Trophy which is awarded to the Most Valuable Player in the NHL playoffs. These odds have changed dramatically from before the playoffs with Phoenix goalie Mike Smith and Kings netminder Jonathan Quick both originally at 50/1. They will be much heavier favorites now.
Los Angeles’ Dustin Brown is another player to watch after not even having pre-playoff odds. He has six goals and 11 points so far and is +9 in plus/minus.
Phoenix winger Shane Doan was originally 80/1 and is a sentimental favorite, but it will hard for him to win the award without going gangbusters on the offensive end. Don Best hockey analyst Benjie C. loves the play of defenseman Keith Yandle, but doesn’t believe he will get much consideration either with the way Smith is playing.
New Jersey is in the Eastern Conference Finals and has two players to watch. Forwards Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk were 65/1 and 45/1 respectively before the playoffs. Blessing likes Parise for his leadership and the timeliness of his goals, while Kovalchuk leads the team in points (12), although is -3 in plus/minus.
You also can’t ignore 40-year-old goalie Marty Brodeur. He’s been up-and-down during the postseason, but will get some consideration if he plays well from here on out.
The Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist was 16/1 before the playoffs and will probably win the Conn Smythe if his team wins it all. Washington goalie Braden Holtby (100/1 originally) has been the best player for Washington, but Alex Ovechkin (45/1 originally) does have five goals in somewhat limited minutes, including some huge ones.
Rangers and Capitals players are of course first worrying about just surviving Saturday’s Game 7. Benjie C. is giving his own prediction and feels it will go into overtime, and is also leaning towards the underdog Caps.