NHL Odds & Pick for Capitals vs. Devils: New Jersey is Due To Beat Washington (Sunday, April 4)
Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jack Hughes.
- The Capitals have yet to lose in seven games against the Devils this season, although they're fortunate to have won every game.
- Underlying statistics indicate New Jersey is due for a win, and it had more bad luck on Friday against Washington.
- Nicholas Martin breaks down the matchup below and explains why there's betting value on the Devils.
Capitals vs. Devils Odds
|Time||Sunday, 3 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday and via FanDuel|
The Capitals will reacquaint themselves with the Devils on Sunday afternoon, a team they are 7-0-0 against this season.
That the Capitals are unbeaten against the Devils, including two wins past regulation, is a little surprising to me given how the games have been played this season. I feel the Devils have certainly competed with the Capitals at a level that would normally have earned them a few more points on average, and at least a single win.
The run of mainly tough losses against the Caps continued Friday night for the Devils. Washington secured a 2-1 overtime win as Dmitry Orlov scored a 3-on-3 winner deflected off of Yegor Sharangovich's stick. Orlov collected a rebound off of a beautiful save from Vitek Vanecek, who robbed Travis Zajac on a great cross-crease feed from PK Subban to preserve the game.
Analytics have always been bullish on this Capitals core, which has led Washington to five straight division titles despite finishing 16th, 23rd, 24th, ninth and seventh during those years in xGF%.
Given the dominant regular season results over the span, I think that it is fair to say that this is a good example that analytics are best used as a strong indicator, but they can clearly not tell the entire story at times. It is simply unlikely at this point that the Capitals have won year after year merely by luck. I believe that some of the nature of their skill and willingness to make an extra pass rather than burn a shot in several instances has helped to cause this.
Peter Laviolette's version of the Capitals have bucked this trend, however, skating to a xGF% of 50.4 this season, on top of the East division again with 52 points.
The Devils come in with a 13-16-6 in the tough East Division, still a step away from any sort of legitimate playoff chance this season. New Jersey sits with -6.33 in goals for above expected and may feel like they could hold a slightly better record this season as its young core continues to grow.
It has also been an up-and-down year for Jack Hughes, benched at times by coach Lindy Ruff for sloppy defensive zone play. Hughes' line, alongside Kyle Palmieri and Janne Kuokkanen, skated to 66.9 xGF% Friday, and I feel Hughes went unrewarded for some strong playmaking. I will be looking for him to build on the strong game Sunday and continue to show the poise on the puck that made him a first overall selection in 2019.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.
Betting Analysis and Pick
The Capitals have skated to an xGF% of just 48.94 over their last eight games, with the Devils sitting at 50.03% in the metric over the same sample. On Friday we saw an expected goals game score of 2.18-1.80 for the Devils, yet another game after which they will feel they should have fared better.
I think that the Devils will have a very reasonable chance to finally take a win off of the Caps here, and I believe that at +152 there is good value to back them.
Pick: Devils Moneyline (+152)