The Florida Panthers head on the road after going 3-2 at home over their last five games. Their most impressive win came in their last outing, which was a 3-2 win over the Penguins in overtime. The Panthers were able to take advantage of a sloppy effort by the Pens in that one, but there is still a heck of a lot of work left to be done for Bob Boughner. His team is 9 points behind the Penguins for the final seed in the Eastern Conference.
Sitting ahead of them are the Rangers, Flyers, Sabres, and Hurricanes. They have to start hoping that they drop like flies, so the Panthers can go on a run and steal a wildcard. Highly unlikely. Boughner’s job is probably going to be safe after this season. However, if they do not make the playoffs next season, or are slow starters across the first few months of the season, his head coaching job might have a questionable tag on it. Remember that this is first head coaching gig in the NHL. He was a head coach in the OHL with the Windsor Spitfires and signed on with the Sharks to be an assistant.
The development of Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksandra Barkov has been tremendous under Boughner, so there are silver linings here. Aaron Ekblad needs to take a leap to the next level soon, though. The Panthers go into Saturday with a record of 22-22-8. Average isn’t going to cut it in the Eastern Conference.
Meanwhile, the Capitals are coming off a 4-3 win in overtime against the Avalanche. It was a game more difficult than the Caps hoped it to be, but they got out of it with 2 points regardless. Kuznetsov ended up burying the winner on a feed from Ovechkin. The Capitals advanced to 30-18-6 with the win, but still trail the Islanders in the Metropolitan. Head below for our free Panthers vs. Capitals pick.
Florida Panthers vs. Washington Capitals Pick
The Capitals haven’t put much confidence in people this season. After winning the Stanley Cup a season ago, the Caps don’t look like a team you would expect to go back to the Stanley Cup Final. Having said that, the Capitals finished last season tied with the Maple Leafs for 3rd in the Eastern Conference. They didn’t win the Presidents’ Trophy like they’ve done in the past, but it really didn’t matter because they were crowned champions.
In other words, the Capitals don’t need a perfect regular season to win when it really mattered. Braden Holtby must play great in net when it matters this season. He’s been below average with a 3.01 GAA and 0.908 save percentage. Average isn’t even good enough for a goaltender of his stature, though after what he did in the playoffs last season, there is some forgiveness. He has allowed an average of 3.6 goals in his previous five starts.
The same goes for Luongo, who has had a less than stellar season in 2018-19. It’s a little more understandable with Luongo, though. Holtby is only 29 years old, while Luongo is nearing retirement at 39. Luongo’s best days are behind him. He holds a pedestrian GAA of 3.11 and 0.897 save percentage.
The Panthers are 29th in the league with 3.38 goals allowed per game. They have gotten pounded on the road with a 3.81 goals against. That’s not as bad as the Caps’ defence lately, though, who have gotten trucked over for 4.3 goals allowed per game in their last ten outings. The Panthers and Capitals’ last meeting resulted in a narrow 6-5 win for Florida in a shootout. I don’t believe we see 11 goals, but a 4-3 or 5-3 final looks about right.