The Bruins are the defending Stanley Cup champs and had the NHL’s best goal differential this season. The Caps needed 81 games to lock up a playoff berth and gave up more goals than they scored, one of only two playoff teams with that mark of dishonor.
So sure, the Bruins should be favorites in this first-round matchup, and indeed, they are. Sportsbook.com has the three most likely results being Bruins in 5 (+300), Bruins in 7 (+350) and Bruins in 6 (+400). For the series, Washington is +170, tied for the second-biggest first-round underdog with the Kings. (Ottawa is +180.)
Another betting site, Bovada, has the Caps at 30-1 to win the Stanley Cup, 13th among the 16 playoff contenders.
Still and all, I was somehow surprised to see just how many experts are picking the Bruins to win, and how many think it’ll be over in 5.
At ESPN.com, all 12 experts have the Bruins winning, with five saying it’ll take 5 games and four saying it’ll take 6.
NHL.com doesn’t provide game predictions, but all seven of the site’s writers say the Bruins will win the series.
The NHL Network’s Craig Button agrees, although his colleague E.J. Hradek took the Caps. (Two out of four NHL.com international writers also took the Caps, for what that’s worth.)
Both of CBS Sports’s “Eye On Hockey” writers take the Bruins. TSN’s Scott Cullen says Bruins in six. Yahoo’s Nick Cotsonika says Bruins in six. The Toronto Sun’s Chris Stevenson says Bruins in six. Sporting News’s Jesse Spector says Bruins in five. Canadian site SportsNet says Bruins in five. And four of five Pro Hockey Talk writers say Bruins in 5, with the fifth, Ryan Dadoun, taking the Caps in 7.
If we exclude NHL.com international, whatever that is, we then have 33 surveyed experts, with 31 taking the Bruins. That’s called a consensus.