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Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Washington Capitals 2017 Eastern Conference First Round Series Predictions, Picks and Preview

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Washington Capitals 2017 Eastern Conference First Round Series Predictions, Picks and Preview

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Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Washington Capitals Series Preview

*view all NHL Stanley Cup Playoff first-round series lines here

Series Schedule

  • Game 1: April 13, 7:00 PM ET, at Washington
  • Game 2: April 15, 7:00 PM ET, at Washington
  • Game 3: April 17, 7:00 PM ET, at Toronto
  • Game 4: April 19, 7:00 PM ET, at Toronto
  • Game 5: April 21, TBD, at Washington*
  • Game 6: April 23, TBD, at Toronto*
  • Game 7: April 25, TBD, at Washington*

          (*if necessary)

Regular Season Head-to-Head

Washington got the better of Toronto in the regular season (2-1-0), but the Capitals were really tested by the Maple Leafs in those contests. The Caps needed overtime to win their bout in early January, 6-5, before coming away with a more convincing 4-1 win on April 4 to snap the Leafs’ four-game win streak and temporarily deny them a long-awaited playoff berth during that point.

Why the Maple Leafs Will Win the Series (+260)

In large part due to the emergence of this season’s surefire Calder Trophy winner, Auston Matthews, Toronto is back in the postseason for just the second time in 12 years. Matthews, who scored 40 goals in the regular season (tied for second-most in the league), gives the Leafs a weapon that can actually match Washington’s Alex Ovechkin.

Forwards Mitch Marner and William Nylander, who each had 61 points in the season, round out this promising young core of talent. As a team, Toronto finished fifth in the NHL in goals scored.

That’s not to say that the Leafs also have some veterans with playoff experience on their side, including their own head coach Mike Babcock, who’s been to three Stanley Cup finals and won a title with the 2007-08 Red Wings. Then there’s goalie Frederik Andersen as well, who’s been to the conference finals during his stint in Anaheim and has more experience at that stage of the postseason more so than the majority of Washington’s players.

Why the Capitals Will Win the Series (-340)

Simply put, the Capitals have no chinks in their armor based on their body of work from the regular season. They finished in the top 10 of the league’s major statistical categories: first in goals against, second in goals scored, third in power-play conversion and sixth in penalty kill.

At this point, star forward Alex Ovechkin has got to be sick and tired of hearing about his team’s failure to advance past the second round of the playoffs. This time around, though, he has a stellar supporting crew made up of new recruits T.J. Oshie and Kevin Shattenkirk to complement Washington’s other notable holdouts in Marcus Johansson and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Most of all, the Caps have reigning Vezina Trophy winner Braden Holtby on their side. Holtby, who became the only goalie to post three-straight 40-win seasons in NHL history, has been the team’s constant force even in the postseason. He boasts a sweet .937 save percentage as well as a superb 1.87 goals-against average across 46-career playoff appearances.

Writer’s Prediction

The Capitals (-340) need only five games to advance to the second round of the postseason for the third-consecutive year.

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Mark
Written by Mark

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