Ladies and gentlemen, the Washington Capitals still alive and have a pulse in these Stanley Cup playoffs. The best team in the regular season that has lost the first game in each of the first two rounds of the NHL postseason, has improved its NHL odds of finally becoming champion.
2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Picks – Washington Capitals
Yes, I said it. The Caps lost the first two games of this series at home versus the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Yet, somehow they came out of Game 3 in Steeltown with a big win. Sure, they blew a third period lead, but they were able to gather themselves in overtime and come away with a victory.
Now, I’m not going to say D.C. is now the favorite to win this series, but hockey oddsmakers are now installing the Caps as favorites in Game 4! Washington is also +275 to win the Eastern conference.
So what changed? Well, the best player in the series Sidney Crosby was injured. As was young gun Conor Sheary. So the Pens were down two forwards on Monday night. They eventually ran out of gas. But that doesn’t mean that Washington didn’t show much more fight than anyone imagined prior to Monday’s battle. Simply put, they haven’t quit on this series or their season. So an underdog role right now suits them fine.
I maintain that Washington’s issues aren’t related to talent or coaching. I believe that it’s a matter of hockey IQ. There aren’t enough incredibly smart Capitals players. The Penguins have high hockey IQ athletes and that is what propelled them to the championship last year. Are the Caps players finally smartening up? We’ll see.
The pivotal Game 4 goes Wednesday night. Stay tuned.
Matthew Ross is a sports commentator and a radio host on TSN 690 Radio in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Follow him @MatthewWords.