This is my second free NHL pick of the night, however in case you missed the first one I will briefly recap what was a big winner last night with the Blues upsetting the Oilers as +128 road underdogs.
It was their second game in as many nights with their backup goaltender in net, but the Blues rode a two-goal second period to victory as they built a 3-1 lead that was eventually downgraded to a 3-2 lead midway through the third. Jake Allen and the Blues’ defense held tough and added a pair of late empty-netter to seal the deal in a 5-2 victory over the hometown Oilers.
It was a big win and one that pushed us deeper into profit territory on the season.
Season Record: 13-9
My second free NHL pick of the night features the Capitals vs. Panthers from the BB&T Center in Sunrise!
Capitals vs. Panthers Betting Odds:
Over 6.5 (-117)
Under 6.5 (+106)
Capitals vs. Panthers NHL Pick
It’s a good ole fashion former Southeast Division tilt tonight in Florida as the east-leading Capitals march to take on a Panthers team that has managed to get their hands on plenty of points of late.
For Washington, it’s been a fast start to the season. Their 25 points sit one point ahead of the Boston Bruins for most in the Eastern Conference while they’ve rattled off four straight wins and have notched eight wins over their last nine games.
The offense has been the key to success in the early going as the Caps rank second in the NHL and first in the east with 3.94 goals per game on the season. Things don’t slow down at all on the road, in fact Washington’s goals per game increases slightly to an even four away from home. They have scored at least four goals in six of their last seven road games and have scored at least five goals in four of their last seven on the road. John Carlson enjoyed a historic month of October while Alex Ovechkin is certainly showing no signs of slowing down as he’s tallied 11 goals in 16 games on the season.
A big reason for their early-season success at the offensive end has been a power play that is tied for fourth with a 25.9% clip on the season – a number that makes sense considering the wealth of talent on board in the likes of Ovechkin, Carlson, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie.
Defensively, the Capitals are right in the middle of the pack at 3.06 goals against per game. That number increases on the road to 3.11, however it’s also good for a share of 12th considering the early-season scoring binge around the NHL. Where they have excelled on the road is in the penalty killing department where they are tied for 6th with an 86.5% mark on the season.
Getting the nod in goal tonight will be Braden Holtby who has turned things around since enduring a rocky start to the season. Holtby posted a brutal .888 Sv% across 10 October starts, however he turned aside 29 of 30 Sabres shots in the Capitals’ 6-1 blowout of Buffalo last Friday. He certainly comes into this one well rested after Ilya Samsonov started Sunday’s win over the Flames.
However, Holtby has struggled mightily in the consistency department as he hasn’t allowed two goals or fewer in consecutive starts and Friday’s outing snapped a four-start stretch where he allowed at least three goals in each game. He’ll enter this one sporting a 3.30 GAA and .895 Sv% as well as a 3.44 GAA and .900 Sv% on the road.
This isn’t exactly the best matchup for Holtby to build off his most recent outing as these Panthers have been very good on offense regardless of where they have played this season.
A talented forward group has led the Panthers to 3.57 goals per game on the season, good for fifth-best in the NHL. Their 3.80 goals per game at home is tied with (interestingly) the Minnesota Wild for sixth-best in the circuit. The Panthers have scored at least four goals in five of their last six games and in each of their last three games on home ice. After quietly finishing second in the league in terms of power play efficiency last season, Florida is back to producing on the man advantage this time around with a 22% clip overall, good for 10th, while their 31.3% mark on home ice checks in at sixth.
Defensively, things haven’t been so bright. Florida’s 3.43 goals against per game ranks 25th in the league while their 3.20 goals against per game at home ranks 23rd. Don’t blame their penalty kill, however, as the Panthers rank eighth with an 86.1% mark on the penalty kill while their increased 90.9% mark at home ranks fifth in the league.
The biggest reason for their woes in goal-prevention has boiled down to goaltending – something no one saw coming with the offseason addition of Sergei Bobrovsky. He’s the confirmed starter for this one tonight, but it’s largely been a struggle for the former Blue Jackets and Flyers netminder.
Bobrovsky will enter this one sporting a 3.36 GAA and .882 Sv% on the season, number that’s don’t improve a whole lot at home where he owns a 3.20 GAA and .898 Sv%. Like Holtby, however, Bobrovsky is coming off his best start of the season in which he shut out the visiting Red Wings in a 4-0 win on Saturday. He faced just 22 shots in doing so, however it’s certainly a positive sign for both player and team as they wait for his performance to gain some consistency.
While some would immediately look at this game and not think twice about hitting the over, the more I think about it the more I like the under.
Yes, I spent most of the article writing about how good the offenses are, and the over has gone 9-1-0 over the Capitals’ last 10 games. However, the lone under in that time was their most recent game against the Flames in a 4-2 win.
The early-season October scoring surge results in high totals and plenty of overs. However, the calendar has now flipped to November and teams are cleaning up their sloppy starts on the back end. A look at the bloated goals per game and goals against per game numbers around the league has regression written all over it. For example, the Lightning scored 3.76 goals per game away from home last season to lead the league. After them, the Sharks ranked second at 3.44. The Capitals are currently at four goals per game on the road. Regardless of how you slice it, that number is coming down. I just a ton of regression in goal scoring moving forward, the exact same thing we saw last season once the season moved on from October.
We’re talking about two very good power plays, but we’re also dealing with two very good penalty kills. The Capitals and Panthers rank seventh and eighth, respectively, in those departments. We’re also talking about two goaltenders thar fell victim to October’s goal-scoring binge but also posted their season-best performances in their first starts of November. Honestly, do you see Braden Holtby and Sergei Bobrovsky, two of the league’s better goaltenders for a long time, sporting goals against averages north of 3.30 and save percentages south of .896 much longer? The answer is a resounding no.
I’m going to go against the grain here and grab the under at what I believe are extremely valuable +106 odds, rare for a total. At least give it some consideration.