The Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks head back out on the ice after both teams enjoyed victories on Friday night. The Blackhawks had a close call at home, as they did enough to survive in overtime. Robin Lehner was under pressure all night with 39 shots hitting his net.
He stood tall, though, and sent back 37 of them to lead the Blackhawks to a win. Having a capable goaltender like Lehner this season certainly helps. Lehner had a breakout campaign with the Islanders a season ago with the Islanders and parlayed it into a better contract in Chicago.
Lehner is going to share time in net with Corey Crawford, but expect Lehner to get the brunt of the starts. Corey Crawford is currently listed as the probable starting goaltender for the Blackhawks, though no announcement has been made. Crawford has made three starts, while Lehner has been in the crease for two games.
Just like Johnathan Quick in Los Angeles, the Blackhawks are unlikely to give up Crawford. Crawford was one valuable piece in their two Stanley Cups in 2013 and 2015. Instead of sending him out to pasture, the Blackhawks will try to be patient with him. However, don’t be surprised to see Lehner have more starts by the end of the season.
The Capitals have a small goaltending controversy as well. The pressure is on Braden Holtby with Ilya Samsonov breathing down his neck. Holtby has been confirmed as the starter, so he’s being rewarded for his solid effort on Friday night in a 5-2 win over the Rangers. The Capitals enter Sunday night with a record of 5-2-2 on the season. Conversely, the Blackhawks have registered a mark of 2-2-1. Head below for our free Capitals vs. Blackhawks pick.
Washington Capitals vs. Chicago Blackhawks Pick
T.J. Oshie led the way for the Capitals against the Rangers, as he recorded 2 goals on 4 shots. Thanks to that showing, Oshie leads the team with 6 goals which puts him just ahead of Alexander Ovechkin who has 5 goals going into tonight. There are already nine Capitals with at least 2 goals on the season. They’ve been getting solid production from all of their lines in the attacking zone. That kind of depth should assist them later in the season when things get more serious this year. The offence has been efficient with an average of 3.44 goals scored per contest.
The Caps have notched at least 3 goals in their previous six games. In their last two games, they netted 9 goals with 5 against the Rangers and 4 against the Leafs, both of which resulted in wins. They’ve also scored 9 goals against the Blackhawks in their previous two meetings. Despite acquiring Lehner, the Blackhawks have major problems in their own zone. With Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook still mainstays of the blue line for the Blackhawks, they lose a lot of speed on defence. Keith and Seabrook have both lost a step after helping the Hawks win championships.
Putting 36-year-old and 34-year-old legs on the ice against some of the speedy youngsters in this league is not a successful formula. The core of the Capitals isn’t exactly a bunch of youngsters, but they are still a fast team who can get into the attacking zone quickly to cause damage. The Blackhawks have allowed an average of 3 goals per game this season. Corey Crawford owns a 3.41 GAA and 0.90 save percentage. He’s been way off against the Caps in his career, with a 3.61 GAA and 0.881 save percentage.
Perhaps the best sign from Friday night was the play of Holtby in net. His rebound control was exceptionally better than in other instances this year. It hasn’t been a tremendous start for him in 2019-20, but that could be a springboard for him to get his confidence back. The Caps typically have had a ton of confidence when playing the Hawks. They’re 8-3 over the Blackhawks in their previous eleven meetings. Barring a lack of effort, the Capitals should go into Chicago and take a win at the United Center.