We are back on the ice Saturday after a brief hiatus yesterday. There weren’t any games on the schedule, so other than college football and baseball, there wasn’t much on the slate to handicap. If you’re sharp with NBA preseason, that might make for another opportunity. In any event, the NHL returns on Saturday with a full card of action. There are some good games out there as well, like this one in Washington at the Capital One Center.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will meet the Washington Capitals for a rematch of a playoff series from a couple of years ago. The Capitals edged the Leafs out then, a year that Toronto were just a bunch of kids. They are still a bunch of kids, but they’ve made strides from then to now. Conversely, the Capitals have certainly made strides, as they won a Stanley Cup the following season. The Leafs lost to the Bruins in seven games to stall their comeback bid from 3-1 down in the series.
Toronto is back, though, and their offence is the best it’s been since Auston Matthews was drafted. The acquisition of John Tavares put an already good offence over the top to an elite unit. The only thing that has gone wrong for the Leafs’ offence is the holdout by William Nylander. With Kasperi Kapanen playing well, it’s opening up the possibility that Nylander can be used as trade bait.
They aren’t going to be cheap with him either. Nylander is a good player who can help some teams out. Undoubtably, the Leafs would be looking to add talent on the blueline. For them to be true Cup contenders, the defence is going to have to be addressed. The Leafs are coming off a 5-3 win over the Red Wings, while the Capitals were blanked by the Devils on the road, 6-0. Get our free Maple Leafs vs. Capitals pick below.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Washington Capitals Pick
Thursday was the worst performance we’ve seen from the Capitals in quite awhile. It was another lapse defensively for them, as it was the second time in this young season that they’ve allowed 6 goals in regulation. The offence came to play in the other game, so they were able to salvage a point with a 7-6 loss in overtime against the Penguins.
The offence was flat on Thursday, though, as they couldn’t generate many scoring chances against Kinkaid. The Capitals hit the net just 21 times, which is rather uncharacteristic for a team who consistently tops 30 shots. It just wasn’t their night, a day after they beat the Golden Knights by a score of 5-2. With the night off yesterday, the Capitals should feel fresher for the Leafs on Saturday.
Playing against the Leafs’ defence at home should fix whatever was ailing them in New Jersey. It’s been more of the same for them this season defensively, as the Leafs have allowed 4 goals per game thus far. Frederik Andersen had an awful October last season, and while he hasn’t been awful, his save percentage of 0.893 could use some assistance.
The offence has been carrying the load with 5 goals per game. Despite no goals against the Devils, the Capitals are still averaging 4.5 goals per game. After getting shutout on Thursday, don’t expect a similar performance from the Capitals on Saturday. A total of 7 was bound to happen in Leafs games. It makes sense against the Capitals, with neither team playing any defence to open the season. There will likely be some 7.5’s pop up in games featuring Toronto in the future. I’d take a look at the OVER here.