Free NHL Picks: Maple Leafs at Capitals Odds
by George Monroy - 1/9/2014
Alex Ovechkin earned his 376th career assist as a Washington Capital on Saturday, moving him into third place on the franchise’s all-time assists list. The team, however, managed to lose a two-goal lead against the Minnesota Wild and dropped its fourth straight game. Washington seems to be wasting another fantastic year from its captain Ovechkin and continues to slowly fall out of playoff contention with each loss. The team will start a three-game homestand against Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night and hopes to add a few more points in the standings in order to stay relevant in the playoff picture.
The Maple Leafs just finished off a tough two-game, all-New York, homestand where they lost to both the Islanders and Rangers by a combined score of 12-4. Prior to those games, the team looked solid as it rattled off three straight wins. Toronto is one point ahead of the Capitals for the No. 8 spot in the playoff standings and will be looking to pull off a huge road win on Friday night to stay one step ahead of its Eastern Conference foe. Let’s take a closer look at the matchup with predictions and analysis.
Maple Leafs at Capitals Betting Story Lines
Washington is actually a very good team statistically. The squad is ranked ninth in goals per game with 2.9 and second in power-play percentage, scoring 25 percent of the time. However, Washington’s problem is simple—the team allows more goals than it scores. The Capitals are ranked 24th in the league in goals allowed with three per game, and they struggle to keep teams from scoring and attacking their zone.
The team is also wasting another great year from Ovechkin, who has 31 goals and 12 assists on the season. Nicklas Backstrom has also played fantastic throughout the year and has been an integral part of the team’s offensive system. Backstrom is actually Washington’s point’s leader and has two more points than Ovechkin. The Capitals are sitting on 46 points in the standings (prior to Thursday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning) and trail the Maple Leafs and New York Rangers by one point for the final playoff spot in the East.
The Maple Leafs gave up 75 shots and 12 goals when they hosted both New York teams. Goaltender Jonathan Bernier made both starts Washington but was pulled from each game after giving up four and five goals, respectively. The team is expected to start its backup James Reimer during its next matchup against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night.
Toronto’s offense has been sluggish and inconsistent over the course of the season, but those faults really came to light over the team’s last few matchups. The Maple Leafs scored three goals against the Islanders but were blown out 7-1 two days before against the Rangers. Overall the team averages 2.6 goals per game and gives up 2.9, which is essentially its major problem. Toronto, however, does excel at power-play opportunities and is ranked fifth in the NHL.
Maple Leafs at Capitals NHL Betting Odds and Key Trends
Washington opened as a -152 moneyline favorite over the +138 underdog Maple Leafs at BetOnline. The total was set at six goals, with the “under” being favored at -126. Toronto has struggled as of late and is trending downward in just about every category. The team is 2-10 over its last 12 road games, 1-6 against the Metropolitan Division and 0-4 on the second night of a back-to-back.
Washington is 8-2 over its last 10 Friday games but only 2-6 against the Atlantic and 1-4 over its last five games against teams with a losing record. The squad is also 1-4 over its last five matchup with the Eastern Conference and 0-4 overall. Head-to-head, the “under” is 4-1 over the last five, while the home team has also won four of the last five matchups. Toronto is 2-6 in the last eight meeting in Washington.
Free NHL Picks: Maple Leafs at Capitals Predictions
Friday’s matchup is one of those situations where bettors shouldn’t over think things. Washington is at home, has one of the best players in the league, and has played excellent on the offensive end. Sure, Toronto has the better record and may be the better team, but the squad is playing on the road and has struggled on the defensive end. The Capitals know they trail the Maple Leafs by a point for the final playoff spot and will not want to drop a winnable game inside their own arena. Take Washington on the moneyline.
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