The Washington Capitals were in Nashville on Saturday to complete a back-to-back set against the Edmonton Oilers and the Nashville Predators. Friday saw the Washington Capitals hand the Oilers a 2-1 defeat while on Saturday Washington lost to Nashville 5-2. The minor setback has not made them any less of a favorite in the Stanley Cup betting market as the Capitals remain the betting favorite to win the Stanley Cup with most sportsbooks.

Bet365 price Caps at +440 outright

Bet365, for example, have the Capitals at +440 (22/5) to hoist their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

That firm is certainly not alone in making the Capitals the favorite team as all of 888Sport, Betway, bwin, William Hill, and BetVictor make the Caps the favorites as well. The only firm that digresses among the major players is Ladbrokes. They make Washington +550 (11/2) while the surging Minnesota Wild come at at +500 (5/1) as he favorite at that sportsbook.

What may loom large with Washington is the team's history, both recent and ancient. The Capitals have been around for decades now and they have no Stanley Cup to show for it. Furthermore, they have been a strong team in the NHL for about a decade and yet have not even appeared in a conference final. Alex Ovechkin's teams have gained a reputation as chokers, both at the club level and the international level as his Russian teams have frequently underachieved.

Will maturing Holtby make the difference?

Heading into Sunday, the Capitals will have either a 7-point lead or a 5-point lead in the Metropolitan Division. The size of the lead depends on the outcome of second-placed Pittsburgh's game, one that they were leading 2-1 at time of writing. History has shown that Ovechkin's Capitals have no trouble holding a lead in their division, even down the stretch of pressure-filled regular season games.

Accordingly, the Capitals remain one of the more likely teams to finish strong this season and their betting odds reflect that too. Marathon Bet, for instance, make them -232 (about 10/23) to win their division.

Braden Holtby promises to be a huge key to the success of the Capitals, both down the stretch of the regular season and in the playoffs.

His blossoming in net might be exactly what Washington need to get over the hump. For much of their recent history, it has been a question of Ovechkin delivering. However, if there is a shift in focus on Holtby then the dynamics of Washington's pressure to perform may change entirely. That in turn might create a new balance with the team, one where they are able to better cope with the demands of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

But regardless, Washington does share a division with both the New York Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. If Washington makes the 2nd round, it's one of those two teams that the Caps will likely face, or maybe even the Columbus Blue Jackets. Washington will have their work cut out for them this post-season no matter what, but as the trade deadline looms they do seem more prepared to make a run, with Holtby maturing, then they have at points in the past.