The NHL is set up with another solid day of action throughout April 4. Six games are up on the board throughout Sunday. One of these matchups will be between the Washington Capitals and the New Jersey Devils. These two teams are on opposite sides of the division, but I expect a good one on Sunday. This matchup will drop the puck at around 3:00 PM Eastern time on NHL Network.
The Capitals have put up a record of 24-9-4 to this point in the season, which has them sitting in first place of the East Division. Washington only has a two point lead on the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins. The Capitals will look to further that lead with a win in this one. Washington has won eleven of their last fourteen and will look to keep it up in this one.
New Jersey has earned a record of 13-16-6 throughout this season, which has them sitting in seventh place of the East Division. The Devils are nine points out of the final playoff spot in the East. New Jersey has lost back to back games and four of their last five. The Devils will look to try and get back in the playoff race before it is too late.
These two teams have put up very different records so far this season, but I think this will be a good game on Sunday afternoon. The Devils still have time to make a push, but need to start clicking soon. Washington has been strong throughout this season, but have lost two of their last three. The Capitals will look to get another winning streak going in this one though.
The Capitals and the Devils have met up seven times throughout this season. Washington hosted the first game on February 21. T.J. Oshie had two goals and an assist to help lead the Capitals to a 4-3 win. The second game shifted to New Jersey on February 27. John Carlson and Carl Hagelin both had two assists to help give Washington a 5-2 win.
The third game of the season series stayed in New Jersey on February 28. Jakub Vrana had a goal and an assist for the Capitals as Washington earned a 3-2 win. Washington hosted the fourth game of the season series on March 9. Travis Zajac had three assists for New Jersey, but it was not enough. Jakub Vrana scored twice, including the game winner as the Capitals earned a 5-4 win in overtime.
Washington hosted the fifth and sixth game of the season series on March 25 and 26. Evgeny Kuznetsov had two goals and Alex Ovechkin had a goal and an assist in the fifth game as the Capitals won 4-3. Ovechkin had two goals, while Conor Sheary had a goal and an assist in the sixth game. Ilya Samsonov stopped all 24 shots he faced as the Capitals earned a 4-0 win.
The seventh game of the season series shifted back to New Jersey on April 2. John Carlson opened up the scoring in the second period, but Michael McLeod tied it up a few minutes later. Dmitry Orlov scored the game winner in overtime. Vitek Vanecek stopped 22 of 23 shots as Washington earned a 2-1 win to go up 7-0 in the season series.
Washington has been really strong on both sides of special teams throughout this season. The Capitals have capitalized on 22 of their 91 power play chances, which is a 24.2 percent success rate. Washington has killed off 91 of their opponents 111 power play attempts, which is an 82 percent penalty kill. The Capitals will look to keep it up in this one.
The Devils have struggled on both sides of special teams to this point in the season. New Jersey has scored on only 13 of their 101 power play opportunities, which is a 12.9 percent power play. The Devils have given up 27 power play goals on 101 penalties against, which is a 73.3 percent kill rate. New Jersey needs to change things up on special teams if they want to make a push this season.
The Capitals have the clear edge on special teams in this one. Washington has a way better power play and penalty kill. New Jersey has not been able to get anything going on special teams this season. The Devils have the league worst power play and need to find some success in this one. If the Capitals can dominate on special teams in this one, it could be enough to earn the season sweep.
I expect Ilya Samsonov to get the start in the net for Washington in this one. Samsonov has started in 11 games this season, going 8-2-1 through this season. He has put up a save percentage of .896 and a 2.77 GAA in those games played. Samsonov finished with 18 saves on 24 shots in his last start against the Islanders, which was not enough for the win.
Mackenzie Blackwood will likely get the nod between the pipes for the Devils on Sunday afternoon. Blackwood has earned a record of 9-9-3 throughout his 21 starts this season. He has posted a .913 save percentage and a GAA of 2.82. Blackwood’s last start was against the Capitals, where he stopped 38 of the 40 shots against him in the loss.
These two goalies have been solid throughout this season. Samsonov has had a much better record throughout this season, but Blackwood has had the better stats. New Jersey will need to give Blackwood some help on the offensive side in this one. If either goalie can get hot early in this one, it could be enough to earn a big win on Sunday afternoon.
The Capitals have been the better team throughout this season and it has shown throughout the season series between these two teams. New Jersey has not been able to earn a win against Washington through seven games this season. I think the Devils could earn a big win in this one though. It is tough to sweep a season series, especially when it is eight games. I think New Jersey can bounce back in this one.
BetOnline has the Capitals listed as a -160 against the money line in this one. This implies that Washington will win this game around 61.5 percent of the time. The Devils have struggled throughout this season series, but this is still a big line for New Jersey being at home. I think the Devils have a lot of value as home underdogs, making them a good pick on Sunday.