The 2011 NHL playoffs get underway today and in one of the more exciting matchups the New York Rangers take on the Washington Capitals. This is a spot where I like the underdog.

Record 15-12 making 5.02 units

NHL free pick on the NY Rangers as they take on the Washington Capitals in first game of the first round of the NHL playoffs.

Although this is the eighth seed Rangers going up against the top seed Capitals, the potential for upset is quite high in this first round matchup.

Simulator Projections

My proprietary sports handicapping database and simulator shows a reasonable probability that the New York Rangers will win Game 1 of this seven game series.

The Rangers defense and goal tending will be the dominant reason they win tonight. The simulator shows a high probability that the Washington Capitals will not score more than two goals in this game.

On past games where the Rangers have held an opponent to just two goals they have posted a 34-8 mark making 29 units in profits per one unit wagered this season, 104-34 making 69.8 units per one unit wagered spanning the past three seasons, and 397-104 making 309.2 units in profits per one unit wagered since 1996.

Supporting Systems

Supporting this graded play is a system that has produced a record of 59-23 making 37.7 units for 72% winners since 1996. This system has produced a perfect 3-0 record this season. Play on any team against the money line off a home win by two goals or more facing an opponent after a low scoring road game where both teams scored one goal or less.

This system is a bit of a variation of the one above and has produced an exceptional record of 35-13 ATS for 73% winners since 1996. This system is an impressive 6-1 making 4.2 units spanning the last five full seasons. Play on any team against the money line off a home blowout win by three goals or more facing an opponent after a low scoring road game where both teams scored one goal or less.

The Way to Shut Down Ovechkin

Just last year the eight seed Montreal Canadiens held Ovechkin to just one assist over the final two games of the series. It is reasonable to say that Montreal provided a blue print to the rest of league as Ovechkin has produced career lows in goals and scoring this season. During one stretch he had just two goals in 19 games played.

The 6-foot-2, 235 pound Ovechkin has tremendous speed, strength, and arguably the best offensive skills the game has ever seen. However, there are some solid defensive techniques that have prevented Ovechkin from using is complete scoring arsenal.

Teams are ‘Gapping Up’ on him and this means that instead of defending puck carriers at the blue line they are instead defending the red line. This technique in combination with solid back checking as he comes out of the Capitals zone prevents him from gathering top speed and gaining the middle of the ice where his athleticism overwhelms any defenseman in the league. The Rangers have the personnel and depth to make this happen in this series. 

Take the Rangers for Game 1 and for the Series