Canadiens vs. Capitals NHL Pick – February 20, 2020

I made three NHL picks last night and unfortunately it marked the end of a nice little hot stretch and we gave back some profits on this night.

The lone winner of the night came out west where I had the Panthers as -128 road moneyline favorites to take care of the hometown Ducks.

The Ducks scored the first goal, but the good news is that the Panthers scored the next four as they cruised to a 4-1 moneyline victory.

That said, it’s a good thing they did as we weren’t looking good prior to that.

I had the Bruins at -130 to take care of the short-handed Oilers in regulation time, but Edmonton stood tall in this one.

Boston opened the scoring in the first and carried the lead all the way to the third before Edmonton tied it on the power play early, and unfortunately that marked all the regulation scoring in this one and our pick was sunk as soon as the game went to overtime. For what it’s worth, the Bruins won on a David Pastrnak breakaway goal to give them 10 wins in their last 11.

Finally, I had the Islanders as +141 road dogs in Colorado against an Avalanche team that was also missing key players due to injury, but my gut feeling proved to be wrong.

After scoring just one goal over the first three games of the road trip, the Islanders’ offense flopped again in this one, scoring just once with less than three minutes to go. Unfortunately, the Avalanche had already scored three times themselves and won this one by a 3-1 count.

The Islanders therefore completed their four-game road trip with two total goals in losing all four.

Still, we have to take some shots on some underdogs throughout the season and this one simply didn’t work out.

Now, I’ll turn my attention to tonight’s eight-game schedule and see if we can bounce back!

Season Record: 99-85-1

Units: +14.14

Now let’s dive into this free NHL pick featuring the Canadiens vs. Capitals from Washington!

Canadiens vs. Capitals Betting Odds

  • Canadiens (+159)
  • Capitals (-176)
  • Canadiens +1.5 (-155)
  • Capitals -1.5 (+135)
  • Over 6.5 (+104)
  • Under 6.5 (-115)

Canadiens vs. Capitals NHL Pick Breakdown

Now let’s take a look at each of these clubs before I get into my final pick!

Canadiens

The Canadiens’ playoff hopes were hanging by a thread having lost four in a row heading into Detroit for a date with the historically-bad Red Wins on Tuesday.

The Canadiens held a 3-1 lead in that one, only to see the Red Wings score three in a row and stun them with a 4-3 come-from-behind win that had to be one of the more disheartening losses any team in the league has suffered this season.

As a result, tonight’s game in Washington provides one of the more difficult bounce-back opportunities in the sport, although the Canadiens have largely been better on the road this season.

They’ll enter this one ranked sixth with 3.21 goals per game on the road this season while their 27.8% mark on the power play away from home checks in as the best mark in the NHL.

Both of those areas could be short-handed tonight as heart-and-soul forward Brendan Gallagher is questionable with a lower-body injury after missing Tuesday’s loss in Detroit.

He’s listed as a game-time decision for this one.

Defensively, the Canadiens sit 14th with 3.10 goals against per game on the road, although their road penalty kill hasn’t been great with a 19th-ranked 77.7% mark.

One area where the Habs really excel both at home and on the road is in the possession department.

At 5v5 on the road, the Canadiens rank fourth with a 52.58% Corsi For%, third with a 51.41% Scoring Chances For% and fourth with a 51.49% High-Danger Chances For%. Quality road numbers all-around.

Goaltender Carey Price has been better on the road this season as well, and he’ll get the nod in this one tonight.

Price enters this one sporting a 2.76 GAA and .910 Sv% on the season, but also a 2.73 GAA and .917 Sv% on the road across 23 starts.

Price as enjoying a big month of February and had been one of the NHL’s best goaltenders since the calendar flipped to 2020, but he’s struggled of late.

Price has allowed at least three goals in four straight starts and four goals in each of his last two. He owns an .859 Sv% over his last three and has lost five starts in a row.

Things don’t figure to be much easier against this Capitals team after allowing eight goals combined between low-scoring offenses versus the Stars and Red Wings his last two times out.

Capitals

Some uneven play from the Capitals combined with a surge from the Penguins of late has seen Pittsburgh overtake Washington for the Metropolitan Division lead entering Thursday night’s action.

The Capitals have just one win to their credit over their last five games and that one didn’t come easy in a come-from-behind 3-2 win in Colorado after being down 2-0 in that one.

They dropped the final two of their three-game road trip before heading home to open up a mini two-game homestand beginning against the Habs tonight.

Washington’s high-powered offense has largely been held in check of late, scoring just three times over their last two games while averaging just 2.20 goals per game over their last five.

It’s an offense that ranks eighth with 3.41 goals per game at home, however, despite a home power play that’s underwhelmed with a 21st-ranked 18.3% clip on the season at Capital One Arena.

They haven’t been great at the defensive end at home, however, as they sit 19th with 3.03 goals against per game at home despite a home penalty kill that’s been excellent at an NHL-best 87.6% on the season.

As a result, it’s easy to see that the Capitals’ defensive struggles have solely been at even strength as they rank 26th with 2.80 goals against/60 at 5v5 at home this season.

This despite some quality possession numbers themselves at 5v5 at home this season.

In such situations, the Capitals rank eighth with a 53.44% Corsi For%, ninth with a 53.59% Scoring Chances For% and 21st with a 52.17% High-Danger Chances For%.

While the Canadiens own quality road possession numbers, the advantage from the numbers themselves goes to the Caps.

One area that the Capitals would like to see some dramatic improvement involves the play of Braden Holtby between the pipes.

Holtby will get the nod in this one and continues to get a starter’s workload despite being outplayed this season – by far – by rookie Ilya Samsonov.

Nonetheless, the organization continues to show faith in the veteran, and he’ll bring a 3.11 GAA and .897 Sv% into tonight’s action, going 21-13-4 in his 40 starts and 41 appearances on the season.

Holtby’s splits are almost dead-even on the season as he’s posted a 3.03 GAA and .897 Sv% on the season at home in 20 appearances with a 3.19 GAA and identical .897 Sv% in 21 road appearances.

He does have a .924 Sv% over his last three starts, but his inconsistent play this season has been one of the bigger issues this club has had to this point.

Final Pick

After that loss in Detroit on Tuesday, you have to wonder how much juice this Canadiens team has in them at this point.

After losing four straight, it looked like they would grab two points and keep their playoff hopes alive – as slim as they may have been – but a gut-wrenching loss likely has them down and out at this point.

While we can never rule professionals bouncing back given the pride, contracts and jobs on the line, there’s little doubt it’s a bummed-out locker room at this point.

Of course, I’m on the home side here, but also for another big reason.

The goal No.700 watch for Alex Ovechkin has stalled as the Great 8 has gone a season-high five games without a goal, and while it’s a season-long drought, it’s not surprise after he went bananas with 14 goals in a seven-game stretch and 16 goals in a nine-game stretch before going cold.

That said, it’s a season-long drought for a reason as he’s one of the most consistent goal-scorers in the NHL today and certainly the most consistent of his era.

He’s also scored 11 goals over his last nine games on home ice, so his drought has more so been on the road.

The moral of the story here is that his next goal is coming on an imminent basis and as he’s shown us he scores in bunches, big ones.

I think the Canadiens could be running into an Ovi-led buzzsaw in this one tonight, and I don’t think they have enough armour at the moment to protect themselves.

As a result, I like the Capitals here, but I am going to slide to the three-way moneyline and grab them at -125 odds to win this one in regulation time tonight.

The Bet
CAPITALS -0.5 IN REGULATION
-125
Brenton Kemp / Author

Brenton is a lifelong sports fan who resides in Ontario, Canada. Brenton is a fan of most all sports but specializes in hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and golf. He’s a fierce researcher with a strong appetite to deliver accurate and relevant facts that in turn have led to past success with picks and DFS advice across the board. Brenton’s biggest goal is to deliver readers with the picks and advice that can build their bankroll. He takes great pride in his success and loves nothing more than to share that success for the benefit of everyone involved.