The San Jose Sharks head to Washington, D.C., where they continue their road trip out east. The Sharks have already made stops in Philadelphia, Florida, and Tampa. It started off well with wins over the Flyers and Panthers, but the Lightning spoiled their road trip with a 5-2 final on Saturday night. The Lightning are a different animal compared to the Flyers and Panthers, and it certainly showed on Saturday.
Tampa already bulldozed the Sharks in California, and did it again the other night. They are just a team they do not match-up well with. They leave Tampa to meet another heavyweight in the NHL. The Washington Capitals have not been playing up their expected level of play, but it’d be surprising if they don’t eventually find their mojo and go on a run.
The Caps consistently finish at the top of the NHL in the regular season. Their issues arise when playoff time arrives. Specifically, the Pittsburgh Penguins have given the Capitals nightmares in the postseason. In any case, Alexander Ovechkin is still playing at a high-level. Ovechkin has notched 19 goals to put him in a tie with fellow countryman, Nikita Kucherov, for the lead in scoring thus far.
Goal scoring is of course nothing new for Ovie, who has exceeded 50 goals in each of his last three seasons. He’s always been on a stellar team a well, with a nice supporting case. However, at 15-11-1 on the season, it’s a slower start than most anticipated. Goaltender Braden Holtby has gotten off to a less than ideal start, and there have been lapses on defence. For the Sharks, they’ve looked pretty vanilla as they try and find offence. Patrick Marleau left the Sharks in the offseason for Toronto, which has made it feel a bit weird for Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. We’ll see if the Sharks can take advantage of another sloppy performance from Holtby on Monday night. Access our free Sharks vs. Capitals pick below.
San Jose Sharks vs. Washington Capitals Pick
Holtby enters this contest with a 2.63 GAA and 0.919 save percentage. When you take into consideration that he hasn’t had a year with a GAA below 2.22 since 2013-14, it hasn’t been the best of starts. He did look sharp against the Blue Jackets on Saturday, where he made several key stops to earn the Capitals a 4-3 win. It hasn’t been typical in his career to allow 3 goals in a game, though. Holtby has been much better at home in Washington, where he has a 2.08 GAA, compared to 3.54 on the road. It’s a little unexplainable as to why he is having so many problems away from home.
The Sharks have been finding it difficult to find goals. They’re averaging 2.56 per game, which equates to 29th in the league. The only teams behind the Sharks are the Coyotes and Sabres. In their last ten games, they’ve netted just 2.1 goals per game. Martin Jones can only bail them out so much before they get exposed. We saw what happened against an elite offence like the Lightning: if Jones and the defence have an off-night, it’s hard to win games with their offence.
The Sharks have typically dominated Washington, with a staggering record of 20-3 in their last 23 meetings. However, I think they are catching the Capitals at the wrong time. The Sharks are in the midst of a long road trip and just got finished trying to keep up with the Bolts’ speed in Tampa. Now they have to deal with Ovechkin and Oshie in Washington. The Caps should be able to get their fifth win in six games tonight.
PICK: CAPITALS (-135)