The NHL is set up with an action packed slate of games on Saturday. Twelve games will be on throughout the day on January 18. One of these matchups will be between the Washington Capitals and the New York Islanders. These two teams are fighting near the top of the Metropolitan Division, which should lead to an exciting game. This game will start at around 1:00 PM Eastern time on Saturday.
The Capitals have earned a record of 32-11-5 to this point in the season, which has them in first place of the Metropolitan Division and the NHL. Washington has a six point lead on the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are in second place in the Metro Division. The Capitals have won their last two games and five of their last seven. Washington will look to keep this up with a road win over the Islanders.
New York has posted a record of 28-14-4 so far this season. The Islanders are currently in third place of the Metropolitan Division. New York only has a four point lead on the Columbus Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricanes and the Philadelphia Flyers. The Islanders are coming off a loss in their last game and have dropped three of their last four. New York will look to bounce back with a win in this one.
Both of these teams are near the top of a competitive Metropolitan Division. I expect these teams to come out quick in this one to try and earn an edge over the other. New York has struggled a bit entering this one, but I think they have a good chance to bounce back with a win in this one. Washington has St. Louis and Boston right on their tail for the President’s Trophy race, so they will look to earn a win to hold onto that spot.
The Capitals and the Islanders met up to open up the season in New York on October 4. Jakub Vrana opened up the scoring for Washington, but Devon Toews tied it up soon after. T.J. Oshie scored on the power play in the second to give the Capitals the lead back. Ilya Samsonov stopped 25 of the 26 shots he faced to help give Washington a 2-1 win.
The second game of the season series shifted to Washington on December 31. New York got it started early in the first, jumping out to a 2-0 lead. The Capitals bounced back and tied it 2-2 before the end of the first. Evgeny Kuznetsov gave Washington the lead with his second goal of the night. Casey Cizikas scored his second of the night followed by a goal by Tom Kuhnhackl to give the Islanders a 4-3 win.
These two teams split the first two games of the season series, with the road team winning both games. Washington and New York split the season series last season as well as both teams were able to make it to the postseason. The Islanders will look to earn a win at home for the first time this season against the Capitals in this one after losing their home opener.
Washington’s power play has been around the league average to this point in the season. The Capitals have capitalized on 32 of their 154 power play opportunities this season, which is a 20.8 percent power play. Washington’s penalty kill has held their opponents to 26 goals on 167 chances, which is an 84.4 percent kill rate.
Despite the Islanders success this season, their special teams have been anything but special. New York has scored on 19 of their 104 power play chances, which is an 18.3 percent success rate. The Islanders penalty kill has not been any better, allowing opposing teams to score 26 goals on 126 attempts, which is a 79.4 percent kill rate.
The Capitals have the better special teams unit so far this season, but New York has been the more disciplined team. If the Islanders can stop Washington’s limited power play chances, they could avoid the edge that the Capitals have on them on special teams. If New York can find a way to beat Washington’s penalty kill, it could give them the advantage in this game.
I expect Braden Holtby to get the nod in the crease for the Capitals in this matchup. Holtby has started this season off with a record of 18-9-4 through his 32 starts. He has earned a save percentage of .899 and a 3.02 GAA through those starts. Holtby’s last start came against the New Jersey Devils, where he stopped 19 of the 23 shots he faced in a loss.
Semyon Varlamov will likely get the start in net for New York on Saturday afternoon. Varlamov has posted a record of 15-7-4 through 26 starts. He has put up a .918 save percentage and a GAA of 2.50. Varlamov’s last start came against the New York Rangers, where he stopped 25 of the 28 shots against him in route to a loss.
Neither of these goalies are coming into this game hot, but Varlamov has had a much better season stat wise. Holtby has lost five of his last six starts, finishing with a save percentage below .900 in all six of those games. Varlamov has lost three games in a row and five of his last six. Both goalies will look to make some big saves early to get back into a groove.
The Capitals are coming into this game at the top of the Metropolitan Division standings, but I believe that New York has a good chance to earn the win. The Islanders are a disciplined team, which could give Washington some troubles getting momentum going on the power play. New York is also at home in this game, which I believe will help give them the edge.
BetOnline has the Capitals listed as a -116 against the money line. This implies that Washington will win this game around 53.7 percent of the time. I believe with how these two teams are playing coming into this game, it should be closer to even. If Varlamov can step up against the team he started with, I believe it will help lead the Islanders to a win.