The NHL is set up with eleven games on the board for Thursday night. One of the matchups set for February 14 is between the Washington Capitals and the San Jose Sharks. Both teams are pegged as Stanley Cup Contenders, which should lead to a good matchup on Thursday night. This game is set to start at 10:30 PM Eastern time.
The Capitals have started this season with a record of 31-19-7, which has them in second place of the Metropolitan Division. Washington has hit a slump recently, losing two of their last three games and ten of their last fourteen games. The Capitals will look to bounce back with a win against a tough Sharks squad on Thursday night.
San Jose has a record of 34-16-7, which has earned them the top spot in the Pacific Division and tied for the top spot in the Western Conference with the Winnipeg Jets. The Sharks have won six games in a row and thirteen of their last seventeen games. San Jose will look to keep it going with a big victory at home against a strong Washington team.
Thursday night’s matchup between the Capitals and the Sharks will be the second game of the season series. With both teams competing near the top of their division, I expect them to play another tight game on Thursday night. Neither team sees a lot of each other, so they will both look to take control of the game early.
Washington and San Jose met up twice last season. The first game of the season series was hosted by the Capitals, where Washington was able to take a 4-1 win. The second matchup of the season series shifted to San Jose, but the Capitals were able to sweep the season series with a 2-0 win. Washington went on to win the Stanley Cup, while the Sharks were eliminated in the second round.
The first game of this season’s series was held in San Jose on January 22. These two teams met in what was one of the best games of the season. Alexander Ovechkin scored a hat trick and added an assist. T.J. Oshie had a goal and two assists. Both teams exchanged goals until Tomas Hertl scored his third goal in overtime to give the Sharks the 7-6 win. Hertl had three goals and an assist, while Joe Pavelski had a goal and three assists.
The Capitals won both games in last season’s series, but find themselves down 1-0 in this season’s series. San Jose was able to come from down two goals to win the last game. I expect these two teams to play a tight matchup again on Thursday night. Both teams have great offenses, which could lead to another exciting high scoring affair.
The Capitals have been doing around the league average on both sides of special teams this season. Washington’s power play has scored on around 21 percent of the time. The Capitals penalty kill has struggled a little bit at times, stopping their opponents around 78.6 percent of the time. Washington’s penalty kill could use some improvement.
San Jose has been one of the top teams on special teams this season. The Sharks power play has scored on around 24.1 percent of their power play chances. San Jose’s penalty kill has been just as strong, stopping opposing team’s 82.3 percent of the time. The Sharks are a lethal team on special teams and the Capitals will need to find a way to neutralize it.
The Capitals had some difficulty defending San Jose’s power play in their first matchup of the season series. Washington will need their penalty kill to step up and they will need to avoid taking penalties. I believe that the Sharks will be able to slow down the Capitals power play, so Washington will need to beat them in five on five play.
The Capitals have seen a solid showing from Braden Holtby this season. Holtby will likely start again in net on Thursday night. He has a record of 19-14-4 this season. Holtby has earned a save percentage of .907 and a 3.04 GAA this season. He will look to put up a strong performance on Thursday night to avoid the Sharks going off for a big night.
I believe that Martin Jones will get the nod in net on Thursday night against Washington. Jones has posted a .899 save percentage and a GAA of 2.88. He has a record of 27-10-4 in his starts this season. Jones does not face a lot of shots, which is why his save percentage is a little low. If the Capitals can get a lot of shots on him, I believe they can have a good offensive performance.
Holtby has been the better goalie this season in terms of save percentage, but Jones has allowed fewer goals per game. Overall, neither goalie is doing great this season, which could lead to another high scoring affair. These two goalies will both need to step up if they want to help give their team the win on Thursday night.
San Jose is coming into Thursday night’s matchup on a roll, but I believe the Capitals have a chance to end that streak. Washington has struggled as of late, but I believe that they will look to come out quickly. The Capitals were close to pulling off the win in their last matchup against the Sharks. If Washington’s penalty kill can slow down San Jose’s power play, I believe that they can beat them in five on five.
BetOnline has the Sharks listed as a -158 against the money line. This implies that San Jose will win this game 61 percent of the time. I know that this game is being hosted by the Sharks, but with how the last matchup went, I believe that it should be closer to even. San Jose is on a long winning streak and I believe that this is a prime game for the Sharks to lose. I am taking the Capitals as a road underdog.