NHL Betting: New York Rangers at Washington Capitals

NHL Betting:  New York Rangers at Washington Capitals

The 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs are underway and in addition to some of the most exciting post season competition in all of sports there will be plenty of betting opportunities in the weeks ahead. We’ll start our analysis of the Stanley Cup playoffs tonight in Washington, DC as the hometown Capitals host the New York Rangers. The Capitals started slowly in the truncated 2013 NHL season but finished strong to rise to third place in the Eastern Conference standings. The New York Rangers never really went on a dominating run during the 48 game campaign but were reasonably consistent and–key to this handicap–are very likely a better team than their #6 seed would suggest.

Washington does have some upside–they’ve got one of the marquee players in the sport in Alex Ovechkin and they’ve got home ice advantage. The Caps were a decent home side in the 2013 season posting a 15-8-1 mark at the Verizon Center. They’re also entering the playoffs on a very strong late season surge in which they won 8 of their last 10 games to vault in to a top three position in the standings. At the same time, there are concerns–many hockey experts are of the opinion that they may have expended more energy than necessary in the regular season leaving them ill prepared for a long playoff run. More significantly, there’s a compelling case that they made much of their gains against weak teams meaning that their surge in the standings had more to do with scheduling than skill.

The Rangers, on the other hand, could have been pointing to the playoffs all along. Most experts concede they’ve got the superior goaltending with Henrick Lundqvist but there’s a strong case that they’re better across the board–particularly on defense which has never been a Washington strength. The Caps are a strange team–they’ve got the personnel that would likely favor a wide open, high scoring approach. Instead they try to play a tight, checking style which works against second tier teams but not necessarily against strong opposition. The bottom line is that our numbers suggest that the Rangers are simply the better team and getting the better team at an underdog price is a classic case of betting value.