The 2021 NHL playoffs kick off on Saturday night as the second-place Washington Capitals host the third-place Boston Bruins in what should be a physical and long series.
Some books opened this game as a pick ‘em while others have the Bruins as a -115 to -120 favorite. The total sits at 5.5 in NHL betting and is trending to the Under but will not reach 5.
Here are our free picks and predictions for Bruins vs. Capitals on Saturday, May 15 (7:15 p.m. ET).
Bruins vs Capitals game info
• Location: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
• Date: Saturday, May 15, 2021
• Time: 7:15 p.m. ET
• TV: NBC
Bruins vs Capitals series odds
Bruins vs Capitals odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
Compare NHL odds before betting to ensure you get the best number.
NHL Sharp Money and Line Movement ReportBy Patrick Everson
This moneyline has seen significant movement, with lots of questionable/doubtful players (see below). FanDuel opened the Capitals -125 back on Wednesday, saw the line flip to Bruins -118 Friday morning, and Boston is now out to -134. That said, this game is seeing two-way action with a lean toward Washington, which is taking 53 percent of moneyline tickets and dollars. The total is stable at 5.5, opening at the flat -110 and adjusting to Under -142, with 60 percent of tickets/69 percent of cash on the Under.Check out the full line movement for this game
Bruins at Capitals betting preview
Bruins: Charlie Coyle F (Probable), Ondrej Kase F (Out).
Capitals: Evgeni Kuznetzov F (Doubtful), Ilya Samsonov G (Questionable), T.J. Oshie F (Questionable), John Carlson D (Probable), Michal Kempny D (Questionable).
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Betting trend to know
The favorite is 4-1 SU in the last five meetings. Find more NHL betting trends for Bruins vs. Capitals.
The Bruins and Capitals will kick off the playoffs Saturday night in what is sure to be a physical battle between two teams with loads of playoff experience, with 85 playoff games between the two over the last three seasons.
Coming into the playoffs, Boston has been the more successful team, compiling a league-best 12-4-1 record since the trade deadline — when they added former MVP, Taylor Hall.
Hall has given this Bruins team a needed dose of secondary scoring. The former Sabre has also made his linemate, David Krejci, better, as the second-line centerman has collected 14 points over his last eight games. Boston’s offense struggled in the early parts of the season but is averaging 3.41 goals per game — a Top-6 mark — with Hall.
Where Boston holds the real advantage is in net. Tuukka Rask has 93 games of playoff experience, with an insane 2.20 goals against average and a .926 save percentage. That’s in sharp contrast to Washington’s young goalies, Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek. Why are we mentioning both goalies? Nobody knows who will start in the crease for game one, after coach Peter Laviolette told media he’s keeping his starting choice an internal matter.
Samsonov had an up-and-down season with average peripherals, despite his 13-5 SU record. He has zero playoff games under his belt and gave up four goals in the only game he started against the Bruins this year. The big question mark with Samsonov is his availability. He was on the COVID protocol list midway through the week and was scratched last week due to disciplinary reasons. If Laviolette doesn’t see Samsonov fit, he’ll have to turn to another rookie in Vanecek.
Vanecek played twice as many games as Samsonov but faded down the stretch as he posted a near 3.00 GAA over his last eight starts. Washington’s goaltending might be the biggest factor in this series.
There doesn’t seem to be much of an advantage for either team regarding special teams, as both clubs have Top-5 penalty kills and Top-10 power plays. They also draw and take penalties at roughly the same rate.
In playoff hockey, fewer penalties are called, so teams need to be less reliant on the PP. Washington comes into the series having struggled to score at 5-on-5 with just 1.71 even-strength goals per game over the last month. The Bruins have been the opposite, and since acquiring Hall, are scoring 2.53 even-strength goals per game.
The B's have a massive advantage in net and have more recent playoff experience than the Capitals. This is going to be a long series but we like Boston coming out and riding its hot play into the first game. There is a reason the Bruins are a -156 favorite to win the series and we’re getting a better price with them on the road, with less emphasis on home ice advantage this year than season’s past.
PREDICTION: Boston ML (-120)
Excluding last Tuesday’s game that featured each side’s B lineup, the Over has hit in six of the other seven meetings this season. But these are the playoffs and it's a whole different game.
We’ll likely see fewer power plays, as is the norm for the NHL postseason. This hurts both teams, who sport Top-10 PP units on the season. Both clubs could also come out playing conservative hockey, as no players want to take any chances early in the series with so much on the line.
It’s hard to hit the Over with Rask in net for a playoff game. The postseason veteran has allowed more than three goals just once in his last 24 playoff games and has held opponents to two or fewer goals 16 times over that stretch.
The Capitals took a first round exit in last year’s playoffs and managed just seven goals over five games versus an Islanders team that plays a similar defensive game as Boston. Four of those Washington goals came on the power play as the Capitals failed to create chances at even strength. If this trend continues into 2021, it won’t be pretty for the Caps' offense.
Even with the uncertainty of the goalie situation in Washington, we still like the Bruins to shut things down, as they’ve been the best defensive team in the league — yielding just 1.88 goals per game over the last four weeks.
PREDICTION: Under 5.5 (-119)
Bruins vs Capitals betting card
- Boston ML (-120)
- Under 5.5 (-119)
Picks made on 5/14/2021 at 8:35 p.m. ET
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