The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals meet on Sunday afternoon of Super Bowl Sunday. The Penguins and Capitals are No. 1 and 2 in the Metropolitan Division, with the Caps currently in control at 35-12-5 and 75 points. Pittsburgh are within shouting distance, but are going to have to be the better team down the stretch to bypass Washington. They enter Sunday with a record of 32-14-5 and 69 points on the season.
If the Penguins were a healthy club throughout the season, then it’s within reason to believe that they’d be at 75 or thereabout right now as well. The absence of Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel has hurt their odds to win the Metropolitan and the Stanley Cup, though they’ve been able to rise above key injuries and still play quality hockey.
As soon as Crosby was ready to return, the Penguins were dealt a blow with Guenztel getting hurt. A completely healthy Penguins team is a deadly roster. However, the Penguins may never be to that point this year, including the playoffs. With a timetable of 4-6 months for Guentzel, there could be a chance that he returns for the playoffs at some point, but it wouldn’t be early on in the postseason. Nick Bjugstad is working to get his health back to form and could return in two or three weeks.
The Capitals have a clean bill of health heading into Sunday. Nicklas Backstrom was dealing with an ailment earlier in the year, but has been able to return to play. The Capitals have been at the top of the Metropolitan pretty well from the start of the season. They haven’t felt much heat from a competitor either, but a Penguins’ win today could change that. A win and the Penguins are just 4 points behind, though a loss will result in a 8-point hole. With that in mind, this is a pretty big game and is worthy of being on Super Bowl Sunday.
Washington are coming off a 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators on Friday night. Their offence was far too much to handle for the weak Senators’ blueline. Tristan Jarry and the Penguins should be able to provide more of a challenge on Sunday afternoon at the Capital One Arena. Ilya Samsonov, who has slowly taken over as the full-time starter between the pipes, has been confirmed for the Capitals. If the Capitals want to win, they have to consider riding Samsonov until the wheels fall off. Head below for our free Penguins vs. Capitals pick.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals Betting Odds:
Penguins vs. Capitals Prediction:
We are all aware that the Capitals are capable of scoring the puck at an effective clip. When they finally got over the hump and won the Stanley Cup against the Vegas Golden Knights, the goaltending and defence were on top of things throughout the playoffs. Barry Trotz was able to parlay that into a wealthy contract with the Islanders. While the Capitals look like a contender this season, it’s going to take another standout performance between the pipes.
It was Braden Holtby’s effort that was the difference maker for the Capitals during their Stanley Cup run. Could it be Samsonov’s turn in 2020? Samsonov has been the far better option for the Capitals in the crease. Holtby owns a 3.11 GAA and 0.896 save percentage in 35 games. Conversely, Samsonov has been sharper with a 2.12 GAA and 0.925 save percentage.
Samsonov goes into Sunday with a terrific record of 16-2-1. He hasn’t lost a game since November 15 against the Montreal Canadiens. In his next ten starts, Samsonov was responsible for leading the Capitals to ten wins. It’s easy to see why Todd Reirdan has been turning to Samsonov more often lately than Holtby in net. If he can continue to play at this level, then the Capitals are going to be in fine shape all things considered. The offence would likely be able to take care of the rest.
The Capitals have been scoring especially well recently, as they’ve netted 4 goals per game in their last ten outings. Since January 16, the Capitals have scored at least 4 goals in five straight games. Tristan Jarry has been a bit shaky recently after a red-hot start. He has a 2.19 GAA and 0.928 save percentage, though Jarry has regressed with 3 goals allowed in seven of his last eight showings. His numbers have slipped on the road, having posted a 2.55 GAA and 0.919 save percentage as opposed to a 1.92 GAA and 0.935 save percentage at home. Sunday is a day that the Capitals love, as they’re 7-0 in their last seven outings. Consider a play on the Capitals at home to get Super Bowl Sunday underway.