Capitals vs. Flyers Odds, Picks & Prediction: Washington is a Live Dog on Sunday (March 7)
Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Alex Ovechkin.
- Division rivals meet on Sunday in Philadlephia when the Capitals take on the Flyers.
- Both teams are off to great starts toward the top of the East Division, but the Flyers are favored in this one.
- Pete Truszkowski breaks down why he sees value on the underdog Washington below.
Capitals vs. Flyers Odds
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday night and via BetMGM.|
Two of the East Division’s top teams will face off on Sunday night when the Philadelphia Flyers play host to the Washington Capitals.
Both the Flyers and Capitals have a lot of game-changing talent, but there are question marks with both teams.
The Capitals were idle on Saturday, which caused them to fall out of first place in the division. The Flyers lost to their in-state rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, which loosened their grip on the final playoff spot.
Let's break down what to expect on Sunday.
At the start of the year, the Washington Capitals were red hot but were defying the analytics. The Capitals recorded points in their first nine games despite being below average in metrics such as expected goals and shot attempt rate.
Now, Washington is 7-2-1 in its last 10 games, but things are checking out under the hood. Since Feb. 14, the Capitals rank third in the league in terms of expected goal rate, as well as high-danger chances percentage. They also find themselves in the top third of the league when it comes to shot-attempt rate and scoring chances.
The big change for Washington has been defensively. During this period of time, no team is giving up less high-danger chances per hour at 5-on-5 than the Capitals. They also have the third best expected goals against.
Washington is now finally healthy after missing the likes of Ilya Samsonov, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson, Dmitry Orlov, TJ Oshie and Lars Eller to injury early in the year. While Wilson might be suspended for yet another barbaric act in Washington’s last game, the rest of the Capitals should be available.
In addition, the players are adjusting to new coach Peter Laviolette. It takes a while for coaches to get players to learn their system and it seems like Washington is now beginning to fire on all cylinders.
The Capitals would be even more dangerous if they got better play from their netminders. Samsonov has missed most of the season due to COVID-19, causing Vitek Vanecek to handle the workload. Vanecek has struggled, posting a goals saved above expectation (GSAx) of -5.9. He was pulled in his last start so we expect to see Samsonov on Sunday.
The Philadelphia Flyers are very similar to the Capitals. They are a very talented hockey team that outperformed their metrics earlier in the season. Philadelphia has improved slightly in that category as the season has gone on, but their improvement has been from bad to average while the Capitals have gone from subpar to elite.
When it comes to the analytical profile of the Flyers, it seems like they don’t care. They are average at best when it comes to puck possession and shot generation, they’ve received poor goaltending from Carter Hart and their special teams are below average — and they still have a 12-6-3 record.
Philadelphia has an expected goals per hour at 5-on-5 of 2.02, which is the fifth-worst mark in the league. Despite this, the Flyers are scoring 2.91 goals per 60 minutes at even strength, which is the third most in hockey. A lot of this can be explained by Philadelphia’s shooting percentage at even strength. The Flyers are scoring on 11.7% of their shots. The next closest team is the Wild at 10.3%, while league average is around 8.1%.
Philadelphia definitely has the talent to be better than league average in terms of shooting percentage. With players like Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Travis Konecny, James van Reimdsyk, Joel Farabee, Kevin Hayes and Jakub Voracek, the Flyers have a very talented and deep forward group. However, their shooting percentage is still due for some regression, no matter how much talent they have.
The Flyers are around league average in the defensive metrics, but they’ve been let down by Hart in the early part of the season. He has a GSAx of -8.6, which ranks in the bottom 10 of the league. If Philadelphia wants to make noise, Hart needs to be better.
Capitals vs. Flyers Best Bet
I was actually a bit surprised when I saw this line. The standings and analytics both say that Washington is a better team than Philadelphia. If you were to call these teams even, I think you’d be doing the Flyers a favor.
Even if you did call these teams even, only one of these teams played on Saturday. The Capitals had the day off while the Flyers played a spirited affair against their biggest rival. Philadelphia had to travel from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia after Saturday’s afternoon game. It’s not a long trip, but it is a trip.
Despite this, the oddsmakers have made the Flyers a solid favorite here and are offering the Capitals at plus-money. Even without Tom Wilson, I like the rested Capitals in this spot. I think they’re the better team and the extra rest should only help them.
Pick: Capitals +120 (down to +100)