The Washington Capitals continue their mini-trip in the Ottawa-Montreal corridor, as they leave a 1-0 win in Ottawa behind and focus on the Canadiens tonight in a matchup of two of the best in the NHL. The Capitals enter with a record of 25-9-1, while the Canadiens are 25-9-5 so there isn’t much separating the Caps and Habs at the moment. Both teams are also coming into tonight on win streaks as well. The Capitals have won five in a row, while the Canadiens are riding a three-game winning streak, and record a point in five straight games. The difference between last season and this for the Canadiens is Carey Price. Price got injured and all hell broke loose for the Canadiens in 2015-16. Montreal swapped P.K. Subban for Shea Weber from the Predators, which I think was a better scenario for the Canadiens. I see Weber as the slightly better player, but more importantly, Subban and management were not getting along and something had to give.
The Predators just took another loss to fall to 17-16-7, so I would say that the Canadiens and Weber are passing the eye test better than Nashville and Subban are. The Canadiens have been in an attractive position before in the regular season, but have watched it all go to waste in the playoffs. By now, Canadiens’ fans are cautiously optimistic about their team. They want to believe, but too often it’s stolen from them in an instant. Last season was a throwaway, as they waited for Price to make a return. He never did, getting healthier and getting ready for the 2016-17 season. Canadiens’ fans may have not liked Price taking the necessary time to heal instead of playing through it, but there is always the consequence of doing damage that lasts for the rest of a career. Let’s get to the pick tonight for this crucial meeting on Monday night, between the Capitals and Canadiens in Montreal.
This is a matchup pitting the best in the NHL, as well as what some people perceive as the best of the best in net. Braden Holtby has staked him claim yet again as one of the games best. Playing on a team with Alexander Ovechkin doesn’t help him getting much attention from the media as a whole, but he quietly goes about his business, helping the Capitals assert themselves as the best in the NHL. Holtby holds a GAA of 1.93 with an impressive save percentage as well, 0.931%. As good as he’s been over the years, he’s on pace to notch his best season as a professional. He posted GAA’s of 2.20 and 2.22 the last two years. Note that the Caps are 1st in the NHL with 2.03 goals allowed per game on average.
Likewise, Carey Price has been playing great as well. Price boasts a GAA of 2.06 and 0.93% save percentage. He is, however, coming off two outings where he allowed 3 goals in each of them, a 4-3 over the Stars and 5-3 against the Maple Leafs. Price has a terrific record of 20-5-4 on the year and needs to hold up strong when the playoffs get here. He doesn’t have a favorable record against the Capitals, though. Note that he has a 6-9-4 record, including a shaky 2.97 GAA and 0.90% save percentage. Conversely, Holtby has been a wall against the Canadiens, with a 1.64 GAA and 0.942% save percentage. The Capitals beat the Canadiens three times in a row, before the Canadiens grabbed two right back. The way I see it, getting the Caps as underdogs is only something you’re going to see a handful of times during the regular season. I don’t really see why they should be underdogs to the Canadiens on Monday night.
PICK: CAPITALS TO WIN +105