Welcome back from the All-Star break!
I’ve enjoyed a nice unofficial first half to the NHL season with these free NHL picks and I appreciate those who follow along as I truly love writing these articles on a near everyday basis.
With that in mind, we have plenty more work to do to ensure that this season continues to be profitable and the action only gets more intense from here on out.
Therefore, let’s get right back at it and take a look through this six-game NHL schedule!
Season Record: 82-70-1
Now let’s take a look at this free NHL pick featuring the Capitals vs. Canadiens from Montreal!
Capitals vs. Canadiens Betting Odds
- Capitals (-121)
- Canadiens (+110)
- Capitals -1.5 (+190)
- Canadiens +1.5 (-220)
- Over 6 (-113)
- Under 6 (+102)
Capitals vs. Canadiens NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these teams before I get into my final pick!
The Capitals entered the break riding a three-game win streak with a massive come-from-behind 6-4 win over the Islanders giving them plenty of momentum entering the break.
The offense caught fire just before the break, scoring 11 goals in their final two games after notching just five goals over their previous three games.
However, one key piece will be missing tongiht as Alex Ovechkin will sit tonight’s game out due to the automatic one-game suspension for skipping the All-Star weekend festivities.
The Capitals had the option of having Ovechkin sit out the final game before the break as well, but it’s a good thing they didn’t as Ovechkin scored a hat trick for the second consecutive game and scored a whopping eight goals over his last three.
In fact, Ovechkin scored 61.5% of his team’s goals over the last three games (8 of 13), so it stands to wonder if the rest of the offense can step up in this one.
Ovechkin is tied for second with 34 goals on the season, but you don’t rank second with 3.64 goals per game on the road with just one player doing the damage.
That number is actually superior to their offense at home – albeit slightly – but their road power play of 22.2% (7th) is also superior to their man advantage at home.
The Capitals have been a roughly middle of the pack defense away from home with their 3.08 goals against per game tying the Blues for 14th and they sport some quality possession numbers away from home as well.
At 5v5 on the road, the Capitals rank eighth with a 50.39% Corsi For%, 11th with a 49.46 Scoring Chances For% and 15th with a 48.12% High-Danger Chances For%. Not sensational numbers but certainly sufficient for the road.
The Capitals have excelled with a 9.97% shooting rate at 5v5 on the road, but their .913 Sv% at 5v5 on the road sits 19th and they’re starting the weaker of their two netminders in this one.
Yes, that means Braden Holtby gets the nod tonight after being outplayed by rookie netminder Ilya Samsonov in the season’s first half.
Holtby enters this one sporting a 3.09 GAA and .897 Sv% on the season in what is now his third consecutive weaker-than-normal regular season after regularly posting a save percentage above .920.
It gets worse on the road where Holtby owns a 3.41 GAA and .889 Sv% and he’s been torched to the tune of a 3.82 GAA and .857 Sv% over four January appearances.
He allowed at least three goals in each of his four January outings and four goals in each of his last two against a couple of weak offenses in the Devils and Islanders.
Needless to say, Holtby will be in search of a turnaround in this one.
Count the Canadiens as one of those teams that probably didn’t want the All-Star break at this time as they rattled off four wins in a five-game stretch prior to the break.
They had a pair of two-game win streak sandwiched around a loss to the Blackhawks at home, but the Canadiens were certainly playing more inspired hockey outside of that loss.
They’ll need to come out hard in this one as they still sit 10 points back of the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. Although there’s plenty of hockey left, they’ll need to keep their winning ways of late alive and well moving forward.
Their biggest issue this season has been their play on home ice where they’ve gone just 10-12-4 on the season.
The issues have been at both ends of the ice as the Canadiens rank 26th with 2.73 goals per game at home where their power play sits 27th with a 14.5% mark.
Things aren’t any prettier at the defensive end of the ice where the Canadiens sit tied for 27th with 3.19 goals against per game while their 78.6% mark on the penalty kill at home checks in at 23rd.
These surface numbers certainly don’t paint a pretty picture, which is odd because the Canadiens sport a +7.1 average shot differential at home – the third-best mark in the league – as part of some excellent possession numbers.
At 5v5 on home ice this season, the Canadiens rank fourth with a 55.48% Corsi For%, fifth with a 55.81% Scoring Chances For% and seventh with a 56% High-Danger Chances For%.
So while the Capitals sport some solid possession numbers on the road, they pale in comparison to the numbers the Habs are putting forth at home.
While the Canadiens haven’t yet confirmed a netminder for this one, they aren’t in any back-to-back scenario so the start should certainly go to Carey Price.
Price has certainly had an uneven season to this point and his work at home has not been stellar.
He enters this one sporting a 2.84 GAA and .908 Sv% on the season, but also a 2.97 GAA and .895 Sv% at home across 21 outings.
That said, he’s enjoyed a massive January to this point when he’s turned posted a 2.11 GAA and .935 Sv% across eight starts.
He’s allowed one goal or less in three of his last four and shut out the Flames at home in that span. He took a step back with four goals allowed on 34 shots in his final game before the break, but the Canadiens managed to win that one in a shootout.
The Capitals are the cream of the crop in the Eastern Conference right now and while I don’t want to fall into some trap with Ovechkin sitting this one out, you can’t argue his impact on this team’s offense.
As noted, he’s single-handedly carried them to three straight wins by scoring eight goals while the rest of the team scored five.
He’s near or at the top of list in players most valuable to his team and it’s a big loss with him sidelined in this one.
As a result, I have to give the hot Canadiens some serious consideration as home underdogs.
They continue to dominate the puck possession game at home and they certainly have the goaltending advantage with a hot Price against a cold Holtby.
Of course, the season-long numbers for these Canadiens aren’t pretty at home, but I’m willing to throw those aside in this one considering the aforementioned circumstances.
Finally, while a sense of urgency guarantees nothing in terms of results, the Canadiens should certainly be hungry to start the second half with a win as they desperately need to rack up points to climb back into the playoff picture.
I think we’re getting good value here with the home side considering all of the above and I will take the Canadiens on the moneyline as a result.