New York Rangers vs. Washington Capitals Game 1 Free Pick: The Verizon Center is going to be on fire on Thursday night for the opening game of the 2013 playoffs for the host Washington Capitals for the fourth time in the last five seasons, the Caps are going to have to deal with the New York Rangers here in the second season, though for a change, they are the favored side with the home ice advantage. This is a tight series to handicap, and the NHL odds suggest just that, knowing that Washington is only a slender -120 favorite in the opening soiree of this series. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday night.

This time of year, you typically take road teams (or underdogs) at +1.5 and ‘unders’, knowing that we see 2-1 and 3-2 games all the time. However, in this instance, we actually think that the oddsmakers have given us an opportunity to take a team at -1.5. We are a bit shocked that Washington isn’t laying at least -140 in the first game of this series. Save for the battle in net, the Rangers don’t really have an advantage anywhere else on the ice that we see. Even when you go measuring star for star, LW Rick Nash isn’t going to be able to hold a candle to LW Alexander Ovechkin, the Rocket Richard Trophy winner. Nash is a great player, but remember that this is the first time that the spotlight is going to be shining on him in the playoffs in such a huge spot. The expectations are going to weigh heavily on him. So though indeed, we hate to do it, we do think that there is at least a 1-in-3 chance that the Caps are going to make a statement and win this opening game by at least a 3-1 margin or so, and that’s why we’re backing the puck-line in rare form. Free Rangers vs. Capitals Picks for Game 1: Washington Capitals -1.5 (+245)


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