Thanks to Martin Luther King Day, there is some early afternoon action on Monday. In fact, there is hockey and basketball all day today, which may come as a surprise to some who didn’t realize today is MLK Day. I remember being in Las Vegas a couple of years ago around this time wondering why there was basketball and hockey on so early in the morning. MLK Day was my answer. I wasn’t complaining then and I’m not complaining now. We take a look at a monster game on Monday, which pits the ultra-hot Washington Capitals up against the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight.
Life has been easy on the Capitals lately, as they put their nine-game winning streak on the line against the Pens. The Caps have gotten the better part of the Penguins of late, downing them the last two meetings. One of their wins in this big streak was against Pittsburgh.
Now they’ll do it all over again in Pittsburgh, where the Penguins are looking to snap out of a streak. The Capitals’ streak? Good. The Penguins, though? The defending Stanley Cup Champions find themselves in a mini-funk, losing three straight, including a loss to the Caps and a couple of embarrassing losses I’d venture to say. The Red Wings beat them up for a 6-3 final score on Saturday, and the Senators easily got through the Pens by a score of 4-1. The defence just hasn’t been there for the Penguins.
Lots of goals, but the Pens are going to be going no where fast with this outfit they have protecting the crease on defence. The injury to Matt Murray did no help for them, either. Marc-Andre Fleury is trying to hang in there, but it’s pretty clear that Murray is the main guy between the pipes for the Penguins now. However, Murray hasn’t been the same since returning. In his first start back, he allowed 4 goals on 33 shots against the Ottawa Senators. Let’s jump right to our pick on the ice for Monday below.
The Penguins had it all working for them last season. Their offense was producing at a high-clip, and the defence was one of the best in the NHL. The offence, led by Sidney Crosby, has been turning on the red light at an excellent rate. Note that the Penguins are 2nd in the NHL, with 3.40 goals scored per game. They are just 0.1 goals behind the Rangers for 1st in the league. That’s great and all, but when you’re allowing 2.93 goals per game there are going to be some problems. The Pens are 22nd in the NHL defensively in this respect. They’ve scored 3.60 goals per game in their last ten games, but allowed 3.40 goals.
The Capitals have been flawless in both departments during that same time. They scored 4.10 goals and allowed 1.20 in their last ten games. Washington has scored a whopping 12 goals on the Penguins in their last two meetings. The Pens have been particularly good at home though, as they hold a record of 18-2-2 at home, but the Caps have not been bothered by playing on the road, with a 11-4-4 record away from Washington. I expect the Caps to keep the offence going in Pittsburgh, they’ve been deadly as can be. The Pens have allowed 5 goals per game in the last three games, I don’t expect it to get any better for them here. Although, I believe that the Penguins’ offence will put up a good fight. I’m looking at the OVER for this one between the Capitals and Penguins in Pittsburgh.
PICK: OVER 5.5 GOALS (-110)