Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals will face each other in Game 1 of the NHL playoffs on Tuesday evening. The hosts want to get back to the winning track and keep the home-ice advantage. The away side looks forward to stopping its losing run and kicking off the series with a win.
Florida rotated a lot in the past week, which affected its success rate during that period. Nevertheless, its main players should be well-rested ahead of the post-season. On the other hand, Washington will search for improvement after being in a poor form lately. However, the visitors want to go far in the playoffs and beat one of the best teams from the regular season.
Florida Panthers – Can they return to the winning track?
The Panthers have enjoyed an excellent campaign so far, and they finished 1st in the Eastern Conference. However, they lost three times on the previous four occasions, but that poor run didn’t affect their position ahead of the post-season. Florida seemed to be mentally in the playoffs in its final match of the regular season. They suffered a heavy 10-2 defeat on the road against the Montreal Canadiens. It was their third straight outing, but their defense was very bad. Although the Panthers had two shots more than their rivals, Jonas Johansson had a terrible .730 save percentage.
Jonathan Huberdeau has contributed the most to the Panthers’ offense in the regular season, with a total of 115 points, including a team-high 85 assists. Aleksander Barkov tops Florida’s scoring charts with 39 goals, followed by 85 pts, while Sam Reinhart has produced 82. Anthony Duclair, Aaron Ekblad, and Carter Verhaeghe are in the 50s, while four other skaters chipped in with 40 or more pts. Regarding the goaltending, Sergei Bobrovsky has been the first choice for the Panthers with 54 appearances. He has a .913 save percentage and allows 2.67 goals per contest.
Expected Line-Up: Sergei Bobrovsky, MacKenzie Weegar, Brandon Montour, Jonathan Huberdeau, Sam Reinhart, Carter Verhaeghe
with best odds
Washington Capitals – Are they capable of producing an upset?
The Capitals closed the regular season with four straight defeats, but the playoffs are a completely different story. They entered the post-season from the 4th position in the Metropolitan Division and were eighth in the Eastern Conference. Washington continues its run of away games, as this will be their third straight outing. In the most recent one, the Caps lost to the New York Rangers 3-2. Although they had three shots more than their opponents, Washington had trouble finding the back of the net.
Alex Ovechkin has dominated the Caps’ offense with 90 points, including a team-high 50 goals. Evgeny Kuznetsov is Washington’s best assistant with 54 while contributing with a total of 78 pts. John Carlson has also crossed the 70-point margin, while Tom Wilson is in the 50s. Conor Sheary managed to produce 43 pts in the regular season, while three other skaters chipped in with 30+ points. On the goal, Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek shared their time between the pipes, averaging 2.95 goals per contest and having a .902 save percentage.
Expected Line-Up: Ilya Samsonov, Dmitry Orlov, John Carlson, Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson, Evgeny Kuznetsov
Expert Pick #1 – Over 6.5 @-125
The Over was the most frequent outcome in clashes between these two teams. It cashed in their previous eight encounters, while 11 of the Capitals’ last 14 matches went over the margin. Although it’s the post-season, I believe we should see more than six goals, and it is going to be my first pick.
Expert Pick #2 – Panthers Over 3.5 @-145
The Panthers have been in a poor form lately, but I think it’s going to change in the playoffs. They have one of the most productive offenses in the NHL, and They scored four or more goals in their last four h2h clashes against Washington on the home ice. Therefore, I’ll take them to produce more than 3.5 goals as my second bet.
Expert Pick #3 – Florida Panthers -1.5 @+100
Neither team can be satisfied with its recent form, and it’s going to be an exciting clash. However, I expect a powerful start from the Panthers, and they should beat their rivals by at least two goals. I’ll back this pick as the second alternative at the plus money odds.