The Capitals are the underdogs in the Stanley Cup finals against the Vegas Golden Knights, a role that has suited them just fine throughout their playoff run. As the teams prepare to drop the puck for Game 1 on Monday night in Sin City, here’s a look at what some of the experts outside of the sportsbooks are saying about the series:
Seven experts predicted the Capitals will win the Stanley Cup. The other seven picked the Golden Knights. Staff writer Tom Gulitti and senior fantasy editor Pete Jensen are among those who picked Washington, and they’re the only two who picked the Capitals to defeat the Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals.
“I learned during the regular season not to pick against the Golden Knights, but they are facing another team of destiny in the Capitals, who have put their past playoff disappointments behind them to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in their history and first time since 1998,” Gulitti writes.
Eight of 14 experts picked the Capitals to prevail, with Evgeny Kuznetsov, Braden Holtby and Alex Ovechkin receiving votes for the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. Impressively, ESPN the Magazine senior editor Aimee Crawford and “SportsCenter” anchor Steve Levy picked the Capitals to defeat the Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup finals at the start of the playoffs. (They’re not changing their picks now.)
The Hockey News
“After being sat for most of the first two games of the playoffs against Columbus, star netminder Braden Holtby is living up to his reputation as a Vezina-winning goalie, posting back-to-back shutouts in two straight elimination games against Tampa Bay,” Ryan Kennedy writes. “He is in the zone right now and with his ability to track pucks, it’s going to be tough to rattle him at this point.” THN’s prediction? Capitals in seven.
Three of four experts picked the Capitals to hoist the Stanley Cup. Jimmy Hascup predicted it will happen in Game 7, with Ovechkin scoring the overtime winner.
Did someone say underdogs? Goldilocks, an 8-week-old toy fox terrier mix, picked the Capitals to win it all. (We know this because Goldilocks finished her kibble before Adidas, an American Staffordshire terrier mix, in this NHL-produced video.)
NBC Sports Washington
Nine of 10 experts, including Joe Beninati, Tarik El-Bashir, Al Koken, Craig Laughlin and Alan May, picked the Capitals. The lone dissenter was 106.7 The Fan and “Caps Overtime” host Grant Paulsen, who predicted the Golden Knights will prevail in six games.
Sean McIndoe predicted the Capitals will sweep, with Ovechkin scoring the overtime winner in Game 4.
“While the Capitals have a bit of an advantage in quality offense, the advantage the Golden Knights have defensively is a bit more significant, and as great as Holtby has been at times, it’s been exceedingly rare for [Marc-Andre] Fleury to have an off period, let alone an off game,” Andrew Berkshire writes. “Because of that, I’m leaning Golden Knights in this one, but I can’t say I’m confident in that prediction.”
The Washington Post
Neil Greenberg said the Capitals should be favored and likes Washington to win in six games.
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