Capitals at Penguins Picks and NHL Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 3/19/2013
If the NHL had played out to an ideal script, this would be an epic matchup between the two biggest stars in the league. It certainly hasn’t turned out that way. Pittsburgh is doing their part. Sidney Crosby is unquestionably the best player on the planet, and his team has the most points in the Eastern Conference after rolling off a nine-game winning streak that they are looking to extend here. They don’t mess around, either — they are the only team in the league that has yet to lose in overtime. Washington, on the other hand, has been a massive disappointment. At the start of last season they were favored to win the Cup. Now, despite having much of the same core, they sit tied for 12th in the Eastern Conference, they are getting outscored by their opponents, and Alexander Ovechkin is just a shadow of his former self outside of flashes of brilliance.
All of that means that this isn’t nearly as competitive a game as it could be. But does it provide a good betting opportunity? Let’s take a look:
Capitals at Penguins Betting storylines
Despite forgetting how to lose, the Penguins are struggling with injuries. Reigning NHL MVP Evgeni Malkin has been out for much of the last month with both concussion woes and an undisclosed upper-body injury. He’s practicing with the team, and could be ready to go here, but he’s still probably a game or two away. The team is 7-2 without him, though, so the impact on this team isn’t nearly as significant as it would be for any other team in the league.
Likely joining Malkin on the sideline now, though, is defenseman Kris Letang. He was injured in the first period of Saturday’s game and is nursing a lower-body injury. The Penguins struggled defensively early this season, but they have allowed just five goals in the last five games, so this loss hurts. They don’t have nearly the depth on defense that they do up front, so this is an injury situation to watch.
The Capitals are facing a major injury situation of their own. Defenseman Mike Green hasn’t played all month with a groin injury. His absence is huge — especially on the point. He is doubtful for this game, but he is on the road trip for the first time since he was hurt, so he could play. His return will be a big boost for a team that could really use one.
Washington’s biggest challenge is to play much better against the Penguins than they have been able to so far this year. The teams have met twice — a 5-2 Penguins’ win in Pittsburgh and a 6-3 Pittsburgh road win four days earlier. Both games have been a mismatch on both ends of the ice, and this one threatens to be as well.
It’s not that Washington doesn’t have the ability to keep it close or even win. It’s just that they have been totally incapable of playing to their potential for the last season and a half. There have been glimpses of progress recently as new head coach Adam Oates has looked like he is gaining traction with his systems, but each step forward is still matched by a step back. A team with pride would see this game as a huge opportunity to make a statement. I have little faith in Washington’s pride, though — especially on the road where they are just 4-8-1 and have dropped four of their last six — the last three by multiple goals.
Capitals at Penguins NHL Odds and Betting Trends
The Capitals are 1-7 in their last eight games against the Atlantic division. The Capitals are 1-4 in their last five meetings with Pittsburgh but 6-2 in their last eight trips to Pittsburgh. Ten of the last 14 games in Pittsburgh have gone over the total.
Capitals at Penguins Picks and Betting Predictions
I have very little faith in Washington in this spot. They aren’t playing well in general right now, are lousy on the road, and they have struggled against Pittsburgh this year. Pittsburgh’s goaltending is strong right now, and they are scoring well. When the price is this high there are really only two things to do — bet the underdog or bet the favorite on the puckline. I really don’t like the Caps — even at this price — so the puckline it is. At BookMaker that sits at -1.5 (+140). I like it.
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