The Washington Capitals land in Calgary for the second destination on their five-game road trip. They were successful in the first outing, as they downed the Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 5-3 on Sunday at the United Center. Now the Capitals will be out in Western Canada for three games, before heading back east to conclude the road trip against the Maple Leafs next Tuesday.
The Capitals won’t be home to play until November 1st against the Buffalo Sabres. It’s a tough stretch of games for the Capitals and if they come out of it above .500 that won’t be a bad trip. With a record of 6-2-0, the Caps are off to a nice start as they look to show that no one should count them out this season.
They face a Flames squad in Calgary who has been rather mediocre to open the year with a record of 5-4-1. The Flames had a fantastic regular season a year ago, as they finished with a record of 50-25-7 and 107 points for 1st in the Western Conference. That didn’t do them any good in the playoffs, as they suffered a five-game collapse against the Avalanche.
The lack of production from James Neal really ended up taking its toll on them in the end. His playoff experience didn’t help at all with the Flames’ season coming to a disappointing ending in five games. I can’t help but think of the Oilers in 2017 when I look at the Flames. It might be an Alberta bias due to geography, but this could be a repeat if the Flames don’t go to the playoffs in 2019-20.
A young team who tasted success in the regular season, collapsed in the playoffs, and then came back the following season with a massive hangover. It’s still way too early to decide anything, though, and the Oilers had a fragmented locker room back then, or at least according to reports. They get a sizable test with the Capitals in Calgary tonight. Braden Holtby is listed as the probable starter for the Caps, while David Rittich is scheduled to start for the Flames. Head below for our free Capitals vs. Flames pick.
Washington Capitals vs. Calgary Flames Pick
Holtby has been having a rough go of it to open the season, but the Capitals are committed to sticking with him as the No. 1 option. Shaking his confidence this early in the season by going to Ilya Samsonov full-time would likely be a mistake. I doubt the veterans on the team would like the coaching staff to give up on Holtby as well despite his early struggles. When it comes to the Russians, I may have to rethink that comment, though.
The Blues waited until January to say enough is enough with Jake Allen. They ultimately went with Jordan Binnington and the rest if history. However, Holtby has accomplished a heck of a lot more than Allen and it’s only October. Holtby may have a less than desirable GAA of 3.79 and 0.878 save percentage, but they’re still winning games with him out there.
Holtby owns a record of 3-1-2, so they’ve been getting points at least. That’s thanks to excellent goal support. Holtby allowed 5 goals in his last two outings, but the offence made up for it with 10 goals of their own. The Capitals have been hot with an average of 3.6 goals scored per game for 6th in the NHL. With 3.1 goals allowed per game, though, there have been lapses in their own zone. Holtby hasn’t been sharp against the Flames in his career, as he’s posted a 3.06 GAA and 0.89 save percentage in nine games.
The Flames have scored just 2.5 goals per game, but that has been skewed down on the road. They’ve been putting up goals at home, with 3.5 goals scored per game at the Saddledome in Calgary. However, they’ve also allowed the same amount of goals at 3.5.
Despite the defensive issues at home, the Flames have a record of 3-0-1 in Calgary. Their last two meetings with the Capitals resulted in losses of 4-3. I could see a similar score, with perhaps the Flames coming out on the winning side this time. It should be a close game; too tough to predict a winner, but there should be at least 7 goals on the board in this one.