The Washington Capitals fresh off a win over their rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, get no day off as they turn their attention to the Toronto Maple Leafs. This is one of those classic letdown games that the Caps need to avoid. If they come tonight and play their hockey this game shouldn’t be close. However, how are they going to react less than 24 hrs after defeating the Penguins? The Leafs have to be somewhat excited to come in and try to knock off the 1st place Caps. In the grand scheme of it all though, the Leafs really don’t want to win this game. They traded away some talent, which in the short-run will certainly hurt them, but the Leafs aren’t looking at this season.
Heck, the Leafs aren’t even hoping for any kind of major improvements next season. This is a long term plan for the Leafs, who are looking at building them into a contender in the next three to so years. Dion Phaneuf wasn’t going to fit into the Leafs’ future plans, so he was sent out the door. James Reimer faced enough abuse from the public in Toronto over the years, and I think a change of scenery was best for him. The Leafs are hoping to start with a fresh slate, getting this team ready for the Mitch Marner era.
Marner has looked good, real good in London with the Knights. The Leafs are hoping he doesn’t need much of a learning curve when he makes the transition to the NHL. In the case of the Capitals, they need to win now. There are no more excuses and there is no room for them to choke in the playoffs this season. The Capitals enter tonight with a record of 46-16-4, 13 points ahead of the 2nd place Blackhawks! If they fail to perform again in the playoffs, well, nobody is ever going to believe in them. Let’s see how they react after sending the Penguins a loss last night.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Washington Capitals NHL Pick
The problem with trading Reimer this season is that Jonathan Bernier is the starter for the Leafs now. The Leafs are clearly going into tank mode, but what does it say for the rest of this season on the ice? The Leafs are 21-30-5 and have a record of 12-19. All of the wins the Leafs earn are because of Mike Babcock. I should also say, wins come because they catch the other team on a bad night as well. I’m a Leafs’ fan, but let’s call it for what it is. The injuries have piled up for the Leafs, too. James Van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, Joffrey Lupul, have all been out. P.A. Parenteau, a 16 goal getter, suffered a neck injury a few games ago and is listed as questionable tonight against the Capitals.
In all aspects the Caps have dominated, on the ice, in the standings, and statistically. Washington is 1st in the NHL with 3.21 goals scored per game. They are also tied for 1st defensively, allowing 2.27 goals per game. The Leafs have allowed 3.70 goals a game in their last ten games. Conversely, the Capitals have scored 3.30 and allowed 2.70 goals per game.
The Caps have gone 5-0 over the Leafs in their last five meetings in Washington. In their last seven meetings overall, the Capitals are 6-1 over Toronto. The Capitals are 24-5-2 at home. My biggest play of the season was on the Blackhawks -1.5 a few weeks back ago against the Leafs. The game wasn’t close. While this will only be a normal sized wager for me, due to perhaps a letdown from last night’s win, I still feel the Capitals should win this convincingly if they come and play an average brand of hockey. Catch them sleeping and who knows, the Leafs could pull it off, but I don’t see that occurring tonight.
PICK: CAPITALS -1.5 (-110)