In what feels like the biggest rivalry game thus far this season, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals meet in DC. Last night it was quite the scene in Las Vegas, as the Golden Knights won again, knocking off the Coyotes 5-2. There are two ways to look at that win, either the Golden Knights aren’t a bad team, or the Coyotes are really bad. I think the Coyotes are really that bad, but kudos to the Knights for being the first team in history to go a perfect 3-0 in their first three games of the year. I expect them to hit a wall eventually, but they’re enjoying the ride at the moment. We look at two teams with a little more history than the Coyotes and Golden Knights on Wednesday.
It’s always a good night when Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin have a date on the ice. It’s easy to take this rivalry for granted. It’s not going to be too much longer when Crosby and Ovechkin will hang up the skates and call it a career. The next big player rivalry is already underway, between Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews. Both McDavid and Matthews have been hot, and their team appear ready as well. That Maple Leaf offence is going to be not too easy to slow down. If Frederik Andersen can hold up, the Leafs have something going.
The Penguins entered their first season with Marc-Andre Fleury since 2003. Yeah, he was really in the Pittsburgh organization for that many years. Since 2003, Fleury blossomed into a budding flower between the pipes. I expect him to sign a one-day contract and retire as a Penguin in the future. It’s Matt Murray’s show now, after sharing the net with Fleury for a few years. They split-time, with both enjoying varying degrees of success. For the Caps, they get standout Braden Holtby back in net. Head below for our free Penguins vs Capitals pick.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals Pick
Matt Murray has gotten off to a bumpy start as the clear starter in Pittsburgh. The exception being his last start against the Preds where he pitched a shutout. Murray needed it in the worst way, as he got absolutely torched in the two previous games. In fact, the Pens got blasted 10-1 against the Blackhawks, Murray allowing 6 goals in that one before getting the cord pulled on him. In the opener, he allowed 5 goals to the Blues, in a 6-5 overtime loss. He avoided further damage by pitching a shutout against the Predators. Due to those first starts, though, his GAA stands at 3.84 with a 0.879 save percentage.
If Murray is going to be this inconsistent all season long, the Penguins are going to long for Fleury back, who is a wall right now in Vegas. The Capitals have been scoring the puck with ease thus far in 2017, so Murray better have his head on right or it could be another shellacking.
The Caps are averaging 4.33 goals per game, which is expected from a team who has been one of the highest scoring in the NHL ever since Ovechkin arrived in Washington. Conversely, the Pens are scoring 3 per game, which again in their case, is expected as well. An average of 7.6 goals has been scored in Capital games this season. Holtby holds a 2.77 GAA against the Penguins in his career. For his standards and average, that isn’t the best. Murray has been obliterated for a 4.43 GAA and 0.86 save percentage against Washington. I expect a final score falling in the total goal tally of 7 or 8 goals. Goal scoring seems to up across the NHL overall, and I don’t see why this matchup doesn’t provide an entertaining affair with the red light lit often.
PICK: OVER 6 (-110)