Capitals vs. Blackhawks NHL Odds, Pick, Prediction (Dec. 15)

Capitals vs. Blackhawks NHL Odds, Pick, Prediction (Dec. 15) article feature image

David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Marc-Andre Fleury

  • The Capitals are road favorites on Wednesday night in Chicago against the Blackhawks.
  • Washington finds itself among the best teams in the NHL, while Chicago has rebounded behind the solid play of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
  • Continue reading for a full breakdown of the matchup, including a betting prediction.

Capitals vs. Blackhawks Odds

Capitals Odds-145
Blackhawks Odds+125
Time8 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The Washington Capitals are breathing rarified air near the top of the NHL standings, and are close to getting their No. 1 center into the lineup for the first time this season.

On Wednesday, they'll visit the United Center to take on the Chicago Blackhawks. Despite some great goaltending and decent recent results, the Blackhawks haven't been able to gain ground in the Western Conference, and remain stuck in seventh place in the Central Division.

On paper, Washington vs. Chicago looks like a mismatch. Here's why you should consider backing the home underdog on Wednesday night.

Capitals Hoping To Get Backstrom Back

Sharing first place overall in the NHL standings with Florida and Toronto heading into Tuesday's games, the Caps are in the midst of a three-game road stretch. They beat Buffalo 3-2 in a shootout last Saturday, then went home for a couple of days before heading west to Chicago on Wednesday and Winnipeg on Friday.

Washington's success has come despite a long list of injury issues, and there's finally some good news on the horizon. Top-line center Nicklas Backstrom was a full participant in practice on Tuesday and could play his first game of the year on Wednesday, while Nic Dowd and Trevor van Riemsdyk are set to come out of COVID protocols and get back into the lineup.

Garnet Hathaway remains in COVID protocol and will not be on the trip, and Tom Wilson missed Saturday's game against Buffalo and remains day-to-day with an upper-body issue.

With a goal differential of plus-26, the Caps have been strong on both sides of the puck this season, and expected starter Ilya Samsonov boasts a stellar 11-2-1 record. Statistically, Washington's only real weak spot is its power play, which ranks an uncharacteristic 25th at 16.5%.

Perhaps Backstrom's return will help that number start trending upward?

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Blackhawks Led By Fleury

Here's an interesting pattern: the Blackhawks have been in a win-one-lose-one cycle for nearly a month — leaving them 5-5-0 in their last 10 games and 9-6-0 since Derek King took over behind the bench on Nov. 7.

Chicago's early-season hole might be too deep to dig out of as far as chasing a playoff spot. But Marc-Andre Fleury has been keeping his team in games while carrying a heavy workload. Fleury was 1-7-0 with a 4.11 goals-against average when the coaching change was made; now, he's 8-10-0 and his GAA is down to 2.79.

Under the hood, the Blackhawks' possession numbers since King took over still look like those of a non-playoff team. Ranked 29th in goals per game, Chicago needs every save it gets in order to eke out a chance to win.

Like the Capitals, the Blackhawks should be well-rested on Wednesday. Their scheduled game against the Calgary Flames on Monday was postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak among the Flames' locker room.

Capitals vs. Blackhawks Pick

PDO is a statistic that points at two things — how lucky a team has been, and how much its goaltending has helped or hurt the overall results.

You'd think the Blackhawks might have a good PDO number since King took over and Fleury got hot, and it is decent — fifth in the league at 1.015, where 1.00 is average.

Perhaps more surprising: Washington is one of the teams above them — fourth, at 1.027. So, good fortune is part of what has gotten the Capitals to where they are today — and they're a likely candidate for regression at some point.

Backstrom's potential return could also provide an additional edge for Washington . But many players need some time to get up to speed when they come back after a long layoff — especially when they're over 30. Backstrom is 34, so he may not make a major impact immediately.

From a betting point of view, those PDO numbers suggest that Wednesday's game might be closer than you'd expect at first glance. If you think Chicago's chance of victory is greater than the 44.44% that's implied by the bookmakers, you might be able to pick up a tidy payoff.

For the risk tolerant, consider backing the home underdog against the league leader.

Pick: Blackhawks (+125); play down to +110

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