NHL Odds, Pick, Prediction: Blue Jackets vs. Capitals (Tuesday, Feb. 8)
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images. Pictured: Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin.
Blue Jackets vs. Capitals Odds
|Blue Jackets Odds||+200|
|Over/Under||6.5 (+100 / -120)|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
With NHL players not competing in the 2022 Winter Olympics, the league is using the next two weeks to catch up with games that were postponed earlier in the season.
That has also necessitated other schedule adjustments. On Tuesday, the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets meet up at Capital One Arena for a game that had originally been scheduled to take place near the end of this season.
The Capitals have the edge in the series so far, winning 4-3 in Columbus in mid-November and 3-1 back home in early December. However, Ilya Samsonov was the winning netminder in both those games. And as of Monday night, his status is uncertain.
Here’s the latest and why Washington’s roster uncertainty offers potential opportunity for bettors looking to back an underdog.
Columbus Blue Jackets
A busy month of February for the Blue Jackets begins with a five-game road trip, which starts in Washington.
Columbus comes out of the All-Star break sitting 10th in the Eastern Conference, a hefty 14 points out of the second wild-card spot. They’re better at home than they are on the road, and they’re a wide-open squad defensively — with the second-highest goals-against average in the league, the most shots allowed per game and a league-high 2.81 expected goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 this season.
The Blue Jackets can score themselves. They’re in the middle of the pack in goals per game, and notched 15 goals in their last three games before the All-Star Break, where they went 2-1-0. However, their power play ranks 30th overall, and their defensive shortcomings make it difficult for them to come out on the winning side of the ledger with much regularity.
At the other end, the Capitals had plenty of question marks around their lineup when they reconvened for Monday’s optional practice.
Front and center: the goalies. Vitek Vanecek suffered an upper-body injury in a game shortly before the All-Star break. Coach Peter Laviolette said Vanecek worked out off the ice and his status for this game is uncertain.
Ilya Samsonov didn’t practice and his status is also unclear.
Pheonix Copley was the only goalie on the ice for the Capitals’ practice. After Samsonov was torched for three goals on four shots against Edmonton in the Capitals’ last game before the break, Copley relieved him for his first appearance since the 2018-19 season, allowing one goal in 53:55 of action.
Other roster issues:
- Forward Alex Ovechkin was placed in COVID-19 protocolS before the All-Star break. He could be available for the game, depending on his game-day test results.
- Defenseman Michal Kempny missed Washington’s last three games due to COVID-19 protocols. He has now been cleared and is expected to play against Columbus.
- T.J. Oshie and Anthony Mantha also both remain sidelined with injuries.
With all that turmoil, it seems almost beside the point to mention that the Capitals have already been slipping in the Metropolitan Division standings since the calendar flipped to 2022. They’re 5-5-0 in their last 10 games and have dropped into a wild-card spot, while sitting eighth in the Eastern Conference based on points percentage.
Special teams are a particular challenge for the Capitals this season: they’re 28th on the power player, with a 15.3% success rate, and 18th on the penalty kill at 79%. With a 12th-ranked expected goals percentage at 5-on-5 (51.74%), they’re not performing like an elite team. But on a normal day, they’re still a tier about the Blue Jackets.
Blue Jackets-Capitals Pick
The early odds for this game are wildly lopsided. However, the favored Capitals are facing a litany of uncertainty as they prepare to get back to work after the All-Star break. This may be an enticing window for an opportunistic bettor.
Keep an eye on the updates after Washington’s morning skate for news on whether Ovechkin will be allowed to suit up and what’s happening in net.
This isn’t uncharted territory for the Capitals. Back in November, they shut out the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 2-0, on the road, with 26-year-old journeyman Zach Fucale making his first-ever NHL start.
If Copley goes, at least the 30-year-old has 30 games of NHL experience under his belt, and is coming off a solid outing last week.
That being said, Washington’s challenges could set the stage for the Blue Jackets to grab their first win of the year off their division rivals.
If Ovechkin remains sidelined, and the goaltending situation remains sketchy, you could do worse than to throw your support behind Columbus for an upset win in the nation’s capital.
Pick: Columbus ML(+215 | play down to +175) if Ovechkin, Vanecek and Samsonov are out.
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