The Washington Capitals play host to the winless Florida Panthers on Friday night at the Capital One Center. The Panthers came close against the Flyers, but fell by a score of 6-5 in a shootout. Despite no win, they’ve picked up a couple of points because of two shootout losses. They were a goal away from beating the Lightning in the season opener, but ultimately came up short to a better team.
Falling to the Canucks at home, 3-2, was probably their weakest lost thus far. With that said, they have been in every game this season and just need the puck to start bouncing their way. They also would like to have their starting goaltender back in net. Bob Boughner and his team are operating without Roberto Luongo, as they’ve had to turn to Michael Hutchison and James Reimer. Reimer is acting as the fill-in starter while Luongo tends to his injury.
The Panthers put Luongo on the IR and is likely going to be out for a few weeks. He suffered an MCL strain in the season opener, a blow to a team that doesn’t have much depth behind him between the pipes. Reimer is fine for spot start duty, but a few weeks with him in net isn’t the most ideal scenario. Boughner, in his second season as the bench boss in Florida, is expected to see progress with his team in 2018-19.
He started off slow last season in his first-year, but his team made a furious rally in the second-half to have a chance at the playoffs. If they learned their lesson, they can’t afford another slow two months in October and November. The Capitals, 3-2-1, should give the Panthers some issues, but they’ve been beatable out of the gate. Head below for our free Panthers vs. Capitals pick.
Florida Panthers vs. Washington Capitals Pick
The Capitals barely survived against a bad Rangers team in their last outing. The Rangers brought the Caps to overtime at 3 goals apiece. That’s as close as they got, though, with Matt Niskanen putting an end to overtime. Against a bad team like the Rangers, it was a closer finished than expected. The Rangers went in as sizable underdogs. The Caps have put together only two complete games so far.
They mauled the Bruins by a score of 7-0 in the season opener, and have a 5-2 win over the Knights. In their other games, it appears that they might have been celebrating their Stanley Cup win the night before. The defence in particular has looked slow and inadequate. After the 7-0 win, the Capitals have allowed an average of 4.2 goals per game. Holtby enters with a 0.898 save percentage and 3.18 GAA. Ovechkin and the offence continue to produce at a solid rate, with 4 goals per game to open the season.
That could be an issue for the Panthers without Luongo in net. Since his exit, the Panthers have given up 14 goals in three games for an average of 4.6 goals. Reimer is a better option than Hutchison, but he’s allowed 8 goals in his only two starts this season. Reimer holds a 0.885 save percentage and 3.62 GAA. First-overall selection from the 2014 draft, Aaron Ekblad, is still searching for his first point this season for the Panthers.
With no Luongo, his presence becomes more important on the blueline. And it may look like an auto-bet on the Capitals at first glance, but at -170 and their defence too erratic to support a bet on the puck line, it’s tough to justify Washington here. In what looks like a 4-3 or 5-3 game, the OVER is likely a better option Friday night.