NHL Odds, Picks: Blues vs. Capitals Preview & Betting Prediction (Friday, March 17)

NHL Odds, Picks: Blues vs. Capitals Preview & Betting Prediction (Friday, March 17) article feature image

Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Jakub Vrana.

  • The Washington Capitals host the St. Louis Blues on Friday night.
  • Jakub Vrana, who was traded by the Capitals back in 2021, gets to face his old team.
  • Nicholas Martin expects Vrana to be busy and likes his props for shots on goal and an anytime goal.

Blues vs. Capitals Odds

Blues Odds+146
Capitals Odds-178
Over/Under6.5 (-120 / -102)
Time7 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The Washington Capitals look to keep their minuscule playoff hopes on life support in a near must-win game versus the visiting St. Louis Blues on Friday night.

The Capitals are priced as a greater than -140 favorite for the first time since their matchup versus Anaheim, which is a clear indictment on the recent poor play of St. Louis.

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St. Louis Blues

Offensively, the Blues have some players displaying tremendous form at the other end of the ice, which is likely overshadowed by the struggles everywhere else.

Pavel Buchnevich has recorded 23 points over his last 14 games, and enters this matchup in the midst of an 11-game point streak.

Coach Craig Berube has played newcomer Jakub Vrana alongside Buchnevich at even strength, as well as on the Blues' power-play unit.

Those roles have given Vrana a good chance to thrive with his new side, and potentially find some confidence that might be lacking after some tough personal situations.

Vrana has recorded four goals in five games with St. Louis, which isn't far off the kind of production he continues to manage when in any lineup. Over the last 47 games, Vrana has recorded 25 goals, and a number of those games came with relatively poor usage in Detroit.

Over the last three seasons, Vrana ranks third in the league in actual goals scored per 60 minutes. That mark could likely come back to Earth if Vrana is ever used in more prominent roles for a large sample, but it illustrates just how potent he has been when in the lineup.

Joel Hofer will make his season debut for St. Louis with Jordan Binnington suspended. Hofer has played to a .920 save % this season with AHL Springfield.

Washington Capitals

Washington has not shown strong defensive form and could potentially be without top defender Nick Jensen, which would drastically worsen its situation.

The Capitals have played to a 42.42 xGF% over the last 30 days, while allowing 31.8 shots against per 60 and a 3.93 xGA/60.

Part of the concern has been poor defensive play at even strength from a number of the Capitals' star forwards. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin have both been on the ice for an alarming amount of high-danger chances against — a problem which is very hard to hide.

Darcy Kuemper is confirmed as the Capitals' starter for this contest, and he has played to a .911 save % and +10.6 GSAx in 47 appearances this season.

Blues vs. Capitals Pick

Washington's second defensive pairing could potentially be a complete mess, and St. Louis has the high-end offensive talents capable of exposing that and other concerns.

Joel Hofer could also inject a little life into the Blues roster, which has seemingly grown pretty sick of regular starter Jordan Binnington's antics and poor play.

Those factors make me believe the Capitals are not a slam dunk on home ice in this spot despite the fact they are playing a flawed St. Louis side and are desperate for two points to keep their playoff hopes alive.

An angle I am interested in is Jakub Vrana remaining highly involved in his return to Washington.

Vrana has averaged 3.8 shots on goal in five games with St. Louis, and he should be able to hold a rate comparable to that moving forward if he is to occupy the same spots in the lineup he has played in thus far (and projects to play in tonight).

Therefore, playing a price of +110 for Vrana to do so holds some strong value, especially if you put any belief into the idea that Vrana will have a little extra gumption for this matchup versus the organization that shipped him away.

Five games from now it's highly possible Vrana is priced at -135 to record over 2.5 shots on goal, which illustrates why we want to bet this current price.

Vrana is also priced at +290 to record a goal, another solid number that I would make a smaller wager on.

Pick 1: Jakub Vrana Over 2.5 SOG (+110)

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Pick 2: Jakub Vrana Anytime Goal Scorer (+290)

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