Marquee matchup in the NHL tonight, as the Washington Capitals play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night. It’s not only a marquee matchup, but it’s a unique matchup, with the action taking place outdoors at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The Navy football team won’t be taking the field tonight, but the Capitals and Maple Leafs will be playing on a sheet of ice.
Outdoor games are certainly nothing special at this point, but the location of this one makes it particularly intriguing. The NHL loves outdoor games as well, with outdoor games accounting for some of their highest hockey ratings. A matchup featuring the Capitals and Maple Leafs in a Stadium Series game shouldn’t have any issues attracting ample viewers.
Practices were altered yesterday as the Leafs and Caps were preparing for this one. Instead of an outdoor practice, they were forced to go indoors because of high winds. The winds are expected to swirl around on Saturday night as well, so it could be interesting. Part of playing in these games is having to deal with the weather.
It’s what makes them appealing for some people to watch. I would prefer a little bit of snow, not so much the wind, but we’ll see what impact it has on the game. The Maple Leafs enter tonight after dropping a couple of close ones against the Lightning and Panthers in extra time. Conversely, the Capitals have lost three of their last five games. Note this is a rematch of a pretty good playoff series between the Maple Leafs and Capitals a year ago. The Caps edged the Leafs out 4-2, but the inexperienced Maple Leafs fought hard against the battle tested Capitals. Head below for our free Maple Leafs vs. Capitals for a Stadium Series matchup on Saturday night.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Washington Capitals Pick
Frederik Andersen went from a guy Leafs’ fans wanted to throw in Lake Ontario at the beginning of the season, to chanting his name on a nightly basis. Without Andersen stealing games, there is no way they would be on the heels of the Lightning in the Atlantic. They’re also dealing with the Bruins, but with 85 points, it would take some kind of epic collapse to fall out of the playoffs. The Hurricanes currently have the final wildcard with 69 points. Toronto are 6th with 3.21 goals per game in the league. In their last ten games, they’ve averaged 3.5 goals per game, while the Capitals are allowing 3.5 per game. Holtby and the Capital defence has just been out of a rhythm this year.
Typically a top-flight unit, the Capitals are 21st in the NHL defensively. Holtby holds a 3.02 GAA and 0.908 save percentage for one of the worst years of his career. They’re going to need him to bounce back strong soon for the playoffs. He is coming off some brutal starts, allowing 4, 6, 4, 3, and 4 goals in his last five games. In a couple of those outings, his GAA dipped below 0.80. This isn’t your normal hockey game, it’s being played outdoors, and the wind may play an impact. You could make the argument that it may lead to a difficult time getting used to for the goaltenders. I’ve played pond hockey in some awful conditions, and so have these guys before hitting the professional circuit. However, goalies don’t normally suit up in full gear and play in a windstorm outside. Look for fluky goals tonight, with NBC happy to see an entertaining game between the Leafs and Capitals.
PICK: OVER 6 (-110)