The Minnesota Wild have officially hit their stride, as they hope to keep it rolling as they go to D.C. for a meeting with the Washington Capitals. The Wild are coming off a nice 6-4 victory over the Nashville Predators, their fourth win in a row. They can make it much sweeter with a win over the Capitals to make it their fifth straight. While the Wild have been rising, the Caps are still trying to find that jolt to get them going.
Are the Capitals really this average of a team? No. Just like the Blackhawks are better than their record indicates. The Penguins haven’t even looked like Stanley Cup Champions up to this point, either. It’s really early still, and records now will look a lot differently a few months from now. I suspect the Capitals will be well above the .500 mark by the end of January. Alexander Ovechkin hasn’t felt any ill effects of the Capitals topsy-turvy start to the year.
Ovechkin has already found the back of the net 13 times, which puts him at 2nd in the NHL behind Nikiti Kucherov, who has been on fire with 17 goals. T.J Oshie has also been playing well with 9 goals and 6 assists for the Caps. The Capitals have no shortage of firepower on their roster, but we’re still waiting for them to put the entire package together. A guy they are specifically waiting on to get hot is goaltender Braden Holtby.
For a goaltender of his stature, who is characterized as elite, Holtby has not gotten off to the start he imagined. He enters with a GAA of 2.68 and 0.918 save percentage. Holtby finished last season with a sparkling GAA of 2.07 so it’s been a dip for him thus far. His counterpart on the other end of the ice tonight, Devan Dubnyk, has been starting to find a rhythm. There’s a lot of college football and basketball on Saturday, but be sure to check out the NHL, too. Head below for our free Wild vs. Capitals pick.
Minnesota Wild vs. Washington Capitals Pick
Dubnyk has been sharp as a tack lately. He completed a hat trick of sorts, going three straight games without allowing a goal. A lot of goaltenders wait all month for a shutout, but Dubnyk was able to accomplish it in three straight contests. The Wild got the win in the next game, but Dubnyk gave it back with 4 goals allowed on 30 shots. Some players have a tendency to hit a wall after a hot run like that. The Wild are praying that the Preds game is no indication of things to come for Dubnyk. Overall on the year, he owns a 2.48 GAA and 0.922 save percentage, so that three-game stretch did a good job of giving his numbers a lift. He’s posted a GAA of 2.62 on the road, compared to a 2.45 at home.
He probably would have liked to see a different team on the docket for Saturday night. Dubnyk has struggled mightily against the Capitals in his career. He holds a 3.61 GAA and record of 2-4-1 against the Caps. Additionally, the Capitals have beaten the Wild in four straight contests. While Holtby’s numbers aren’t where they should be, he has been playing very well at home in Washington. He enters Saturday night with a GAA of 1.69 this season at home. This looks like a good spot for the Wild to have their four-game winning streak snapped. The Capitals return home after a couple of losses on the road to a win against the Wild on Saturday evening.
PICK: CAPITALS (-130)