By Don Melrose at BetOnline
The 2012 NHL Playoffs have been an unending thrill ride across the board, so it’s quite fitting that a Game 7 will be included in the first round. Washington visits Boston on Wednesday.
Game 7 – Washington Capitals @ Boston Bruins – Wednesday, April 25
Sports betting line: Bruins -181, Capitals +164. Over/Under 5 goals.
Why Washington Will Win
When you place your sports bet on an NHL playoff series, goaltending is the first place to look. When this series began, the smart money suggested that Boston would run away with this series. The second-seeded Bruins brought Stanley Cup-winning goaltender Tim Thomas to this ice dance, while Washington – thanks to injuries suffered by No. 1 goaltender Tomas Vokoun and backup Michal Neuwirth – had to put third-string goalie Braden Holtby between the pipes. This matchup seemed like a lopsided one, but through six even-steven games between these teams, Holtby has been Thomas’ equal at the very least, and it’s credible to say he’s been the slightly superior goalie. It’s only because Boston stole a Game 1 win in overtime – on a night when Washington largely carried the run of play – that this series is tied through six games.
Holtby has won two of three road games in this series, so the prospect of playing Game 7 in Boston is not likely to faze him. Washington had been a highly-seeded team in each of the past three NHL postseasons, and the Capitals crumbled under the pressure of high expectations. Now, however, they’re relishing their underdog role. They had a few shots on goal this past Sunday in overtime of Game 6, shots that would have won the series had they gone into the net. Boston outfoxed Washington in sudden-death overtime, but the Capitals have to feel very confident going into this decisive tilt in Beantown.
Why Boston Will Win
There is always the possibility that as this NHL season enters the playoff stage, surprises will unfold. Frankly, they already have. One of the two teams to make the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals has already been dismissed from the 2012 playoffs. The Vancouver Canucks fell short against the Los Angeles Kings. Boston is certainly vulnerable in a Game 7 situation against Washington. However, what are the odds that both of the Cup finals participants will bow out in round one of the following postseason? Moreover, what are the odds that Braden Holtby will stand tall in a Game 7 situation?
Holtby has certainly been terrific in this series. He’s the biggest reason why the Capitals have made their way this far, gaining a shot to eliminate the defending Stanley Cup champions. However, Holtby’s ability to handle the heat in his first playoff series might not carry over to Game 7, a crucible in sports which exists on another plane of intensity. In this kind of pressure cooker, it’s still smart to trust Tim Thomas over Holtby, especially in Boston.
Who Will Win?
Washington has a great chance to win this game; these two teams have played on even terms through six contests. However, if you were forced to make a pick on this game at gunpoint, you would have little choice but to go with Tim Thomas, a proven big-game goalie. The Bruins will escape the Capitals and advance.
NHL Online Betting Pick: Boston
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