The first-period scoring chances keep coming between the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals.
So far this first-round Stanley Cup playoff series, the B’s and Caps have combined for five first-period goals. The two teams were tied 1-1 after one in Game 1 and Boston led 2-1 after 20 minutes in Game 2.
It’s been clear through my lenses the first periods have offered the most wide-open ice and the best possible scoring chances. And nowadays, we can utilize data that supplements what the eyes have seen. One advanced metric in the hockey analytics world is called xGF, which stands for expected goals for.
Game 2 xGF
1P: Bruins 1.46 + Capitals 0.97 = 2.43
3P: Bruins 1.62 + Capitals 0.21 = 1.83
2P: Bruins 0.68 + Capitals 0.40 = 1.08
As you can see, the numbers state that Monday’s first period was the most opportune for goals. And I don’t think the computers are giving Tuukka Rask enough credit for stonewalling two surefire goals in the first eight minutes. I would argue it could’ve easily been 2-2 after the first episode.
Many American sportsbooks offer first-period wagering markets. You can bet either team to have the lead, the teams to draw or “Over” or “Under” 1.5 total goals. What a country.
You can still find plenty of “Over” 1.5 goals at plus-money, too.
It’s worth connecting the dots between the first-period “Over” being 2-0 and the Capitals hopefully realizing they aren’t built to win these defensive battles. Washington is at its best when playing aggressively and pushing the tempo. They’re just not a “wait and see” hockey club.
I believe the ice is going to open up even more Wednesday night as the Caps push the envelope and pinch more than they have all series. You would think Peter Laviolette is beginning to understand that his blue line isn’t good enough to grind down the B’s. Hell, Zdeno Chara didn’t even crack 13 minutes last game — and he wasn’t injured.
Let’s not discount Boston’s chances to score early either. The B’s played with pace and purpose Monday night and they’ll likely feed off the energy of the home crowd at TD Garden. And as we’ve discussed, the Caps aren’t exactly world-beaters around their own net.
Urgency should be everything in this first period and both teams should feel the pressure to light the lamp early. Hopefully, we get on the board early and the push for offense keeps snowballing.
This wager is all about scoring chances and there should be plenty in the first 20 minutes.
Capitals-Bruins 1P Over 1.5 goals +100
RECORD: (38-29, +7.2)