Columbus Blue Jackets at Washington Capitals Free Preview

Jose VasquezArticles, Hockey, NHL

With the series even at two games each, the Washington Capitals and the Columbus Blue Jackets face off at Capital One Arena in Game 5 of the NHL postseason’s first round. NBC will broadcast the game, which gets underway at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 21.

Columbus Blue Jackets at Washington Capitals Odds

Washington (+145) is playing the role of underdog to Washington (-165), and the oddsmakers have set the Over/Under (O/U) at 6 goals (-125 for the under, +105 for the over).

Washington is 51-35 straight up (SU) and has netted 9.8 units for moneyline bettors this year. That winning percentage, the best in the Metropolitan Division so far this season, is a slide from what the team managed during the 2016-17 season (55-27). Among its 86 games this season, 48 have gone over the total, while 36 have gone under and just two have pushed. The teams 28-15 SU at home this year.

The Capitals offense attempted 29.6 shots per game in the regular season, leading to 3.2 goals per contest (ranked ninth overall in the NHL). In the postseason, the teams up to an average of 41.5 shots on goal ( 3.5 goals per game).

Following a regular season where they scored on 23.5 percent of all power-play opportunities (the seventh-strongest), the Capitals have connected on 35.0 percent of their extra-man advantages in the early stages of these playoffs.

Sporting a .908 save percentage and 27.3 saves per game, Braden Holtby (36 wins, 21 losses, and five OT losses) has been the primary option in goal for the Caps this year. If the Caps, however, decide to give him a breather, head coach Barry Trotz may turn to Philipp Grubauer (15-22-22 record, .919 save percentage, 2.47 goals against average).

The Caps will continue seeking leadership from Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Ovechkin (93 points) has tallied 52 goals and 41 assists and has recorded multiple points 26 times this year. Kuznetsov has 30 goals and 59 assists to his credit and has notched at least one point in 51 contests.

Columbus is 47-39 straight up (SU) and has earned 0.6 units for moneyline bettors this year. Through 86 regular season matches, 43 of its games have gone over the total, while 42 have gone under and just one has pushed. The Blue Jackets are 21-22 SU as the visiting team this season.

The Blue Jackets have converted on just 17.6 percent of their power play chances this season, a figure that’s ranked 25th in the NHL. On the other hand, its penalty kill unit is ranked 27th overall and it’s successfully defended 75.1 percent of all opponent power plays.

Columbus players have been penalized only 3.1 times per game in total this season, and 4.6 per game over their last five road outings. The teams had to defend opponent power plays a whopping 14.6 minutes per game over their last five outings.

Sergei Bobrovsky (2.44 goals against average and .921 save percentage) has been the primary option in goal for Columbus. Bobrovsky is averaging 28.8 saves per game and owns a 39-30-7 record.

Artemi Panarin (29 goals, 60 assists) has been one of the primary playmaking threats for the visiting Blue Jackets.

Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Washington Capitals Betting Predictions

Free NHL Tip: SU Winner – Blue Jackets, O/U – Under

Betting Notes

  • Over Washington’s last ten outings, five of them have been decided by two or more goals (the team is 4-1 in those games).
  • The extra-man advantage may prove to be critical in this matchup. The Blue Jackets are 20-17 in games where they serve fewer penalty minutes than their opponent and 39-31 when they’re in the box for fewer than 10 penalty minutes, total. The Capitals are 16-12 when they serve fewer penalty minutes than the opposition and 30-18 in games where total penalty minutes are in the single digits.
  • Columbus is 6-4 in games decided by a shootout this season while Washington is 3-1 in shootouts.
  • The total has gone over in three of Washington’s last five games.
  • Washington is ranked 25th this season with 10.7 giveaways per game. That figure has trended down lately, however, as the teams averaged 9.7 giveaways over its last 10 games and 9.4 giveaways over its last five.
  • One of the best at valuing the puck, Columbus is ranked fourth this season with just 6.5 giveaways per game. That figure has trended upward, as it’s averaged 8.2 giveaways over its last 10 games and 10.4 giveaways over its last five.