Capitals vs. Penguins NHL Odds & Pick: Expect Plenty of Goals in Pittsburgh

Capitals vs. Penguins NHL Odds & Pick: Expect Plenty of Goals in Pittsburgh article feature image
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Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Sidney Crosby.

  • Ten of the Capitals’ first 13 games have gone over the total. Pittsburgh has had 9 of its 13 games go over, as well.
  • Can we expect more of the same when the Capitals and Penguins meet Tuesday night?
  • Pete Truszkowski breaks down the matchup and gives his betting pick below.

Capitals vs. Penguins Odds

Capitals Odds +108
Penguins Odds -125
Over/Under 6.5
Day | Time 7 p.m. ET
TV NBCSN
Odds as of Monday night and via DraftKings.

Since 2005, the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins have provided us with a ton of memorable games. Alexander Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby is a matchup of two all-time greats. We’ve seen these teams go through each other in the playoffs in order to win championships.

While the stakes won’t be quite that high in Tuesday’s matchup, there’s always intrigue when these two teams get together.

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Washington Capitals

The Washington Capitals started the season 6-0-3, but have since lost four straight games. If you’re into the underlying metrics, you probably could have seen this coming. 

The Capitals rank in the bottom 10 of the league in both expected goal (xG) rate and shot attempt rate. Defensively, they rank middle of the pack. However, offensively, they rank 25th in terms of xG scored per hour at 5-on-5. 

The retort most used when evaluating the Capitals poor underlying metrics is that it doesn’t matter because they have so much talent on their roster. It’s a fair point, but even the most talented teams can’t get away with generating almost nothing offensively at 5-on-5.

Ovechkin is the greatest goal-scorer of this generation. Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson, Jakub Vrana and TJ Oshie help make up a prolific top-six forward group. Evgeny Kuznetsov recently returned from an extended stint on the COVID list as well. John Carlson might be the most feared offensive defenseman in hockey. There’s no arguing the talent level. 

Despite the poor underlying metrics, Washington ranks fourth in the league in goals per game. The talent overperforms their expectation, and their powerplay is the best in the league currently. 

Unfortunately, as much as Washington scores, they’re conceding even more. Only the Ottawa Senators are giving up more goals per game than the Capitals. Part of the reason has been poor goaltending. 

Vitek Vanecek has been thrust into the starting goalie role due to COVID issues with usual starter Ilya Samsonov. Vanecek has posted a -5.96 goals saved above expectation (GSAx) which is a bottom-10 mark in the league. Samsonov is nearing a return, but he gave up five goals in a start with Washington’s minor league team this past weekend as he tries to get his conditioning back. 

Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins come into this game with a record of 7-5-1. It might seem like a perfectly fine record, but when you consider that Sunday’s win over Washington was just their second regulation win of the season, it causes some concern. 

Analytically, the Penguins are the epitome of mediocre. They rank 17th in the league in xG rate, posting a mark of 50.7%. Their offense ranks 17th in terms of xG scored and their defense ranks 13th in terms of xG allowed per hour at even strength. In that regard, their mediocre record fits their mediocre performance. 

Like the Capitals, the Penguins have plenty of firepower up front. Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are generational talents. Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust add scoring touch from the wings. Kris Letang remains one of the smoother skating offensive defensemen in the sport. 

However, unlike the Capitals, Pittsburgh remains middle of the road in goals per game. Their powerplay ranks in the bottom third of the league, which is a huge shock when you look at the players on it. 

The concern for the Penguins is their ability to keep the puck out of their net. Through their first 13 games, the Penguins have allowed their opponent to score at least three goals in 12 of them. 

Defensively, the metrics aren’t bad when you look at the Penguins. This raises the question of why Pittsburgh is conceding so many goals?

Tristan Jarry was tasked with taking over the crease after the trade of Matt Murray in the offseason, and so far, it’s not going so well. Jarry has the fourth-worst GSAx in the league. Backup Casey DeSmith has been better, but his -1.69 GSAx mark doesn’t inspire confidence either. 

Capitals vs. Penguins Pick

Both the Penguins and Capitals rank in the bottom five in the league in terms of goals against per game. They are both allowing over 3.5 goals a night on average. 

With the talent level both of these teams have, that could be an issue. Ovechkin, Crosby, Malkin, Kuznetsov and Backstrom are some of the more dynamic players in the sport who will take advantage of open space and leaky goaltending. 

Both Jarry and Vanecek have been subpar in net for their respective teams with an inability to make big saves. 

These two teams played on Sunday, with Pittsburgh winning, 6-3. The over in that game hit in the second period. In fact, 10 of the Capitals’ first 13 games have gone over the total. Pittsburgh has had nine of its 13 games go over, as well. 

I expect we’ll see some goals again on Tuesday night in what should be a fun matchup. 

Pick: Over 6.5 Goals

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