Avalanche vs. Capitals Odds, Preview, Prediction: Will Ovechkin Lead Washington Over Colorado? (October 19)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images. Pictured: Alex Ovechkin
Avalanche vs. Capitals Odds
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After a hot start, Alex Ovechkin now sits alone as the fifth-greatest goal-scorer in NHL history. Ovechkin will look to continue his march towards history when he leads the Capitals against the Stanley Cup favorites on Tuesday night.
Editor's Note (Tuesday, 10 a.m. ET): At the time of writing, Nathan MacKinnon was expected to miss this game due to Covid-19. MacKinnon has tested negative on Tuesday morning and is now flying to Washington to play.
Everybody was wondering if Ovechkin and the Capitals would slow down this season, but so far that hasn't been the case so far as Washington is 1-0-1 and Ovi has three goals and two assists.
That said, the Caps have struggled to drive play at 5-on-5, skating to a 43.22% expected goal rate (per MoneyPuck) in 95 minutes and 30 seconds of even-strength play this season. Washington has plenty of finishing talent — like Ovechkin — so it doesn't need to dominate the puck to win, but the Caps will definitely need to improve those numbers as the season wears on. I wouldn't worry about it after just two games, though.
Perhaps the most encouraging part of Washington's play this season is the fact that Evgeny Kuznetsov has been involved in the offense. The Russian has three assists in two games, which should help Caps fans breathe a little easier after his saga in 2020/21.
Another positive is the play of Vitek Vanecek, who currently sits third in the NHL with a +3.3 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx), per MoneyPuck. Peter Laviolette likes to ride the hot goalie, so he has indicated that Vanecek, who has a .938 save percentage (SV%), will get the nod on Tuesday night.
After blowing out the Blackhawks in their season opener, the Avalanche came up just short in their comeback bid against the Blues on Saturday.
Just about everyone expects the Avs to contend for the Cup this season, but they can't control injuries and right now Colorado is battling without Landeskog, Toews and effective two-way forward Valeri Nichushkin. Nazem Kadri has stepped up in MacKinnon's absence, contributing a goal and three assists, but he isn't a game-breaker, so getting MacKinnon back will change this Colorado offense in a big way.
With MacKinnon returning from Covid and still without two of their best players, the Avs will rely on Cale Makar to make his impact felt on the back-end. Makar has one assist and six shots on goal this season.
Despite their 1-1 record, the Avs have skated to a 66.6% expected goal rate, which indicates they have dominated the scoring-chance battle in their contests.
Capitals vs. Avalanche Pick
As tempting as the price is, there is just too much talent missing from this Avalanche roster to get behind them against a talented team on the road. Throw in the fact that Darcy Kuemper is off to a poor start with a -2.53 GSAx and it's tough to be confident in Colorado in these conditions.
Washington could easily be 2-0 but for an overtime loss against the Lightning and you have to be encouraged with what we're seeing out of Ovechkin to this point.
I think there is considerable value on the Capitals to get the job done at -130, which implies they win the game 56.5% of the time. With Colorado missing key pieces on the road, I'll back Washington at this number.
Update (Tuesday, 10 a.m.): With MacKinnon back in the lineup, the line on Washington has crashed and Colorado will likely end up as a favorite in this one. If you are backing Washington, you probably can wait out the market to get the Caps at plus-money. If you are looking to bet the Avalanche, time is of the essence as the line is on the move.
Pick: Washington Capitals -130 (Update: With MacKinnon playing, I'd no recommend passing on this game)