Capitals vs. Blues NHL Odds, Pick, Prediction (Jan. 7)
Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Conor Sheary and Justin Schultz
- Two of the best teams in hockey meet on Friday when the Capitals travel to St. Louis.
- The Blues are a slight favorite, but is there value on Washington?
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of the matchup, including a betting pick.
Capitals vs. Blues Odds
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Having had a week to sit with a 4-3 overtime loss at home to the Devils in one of their worst performances of the year, the Washington Capitals head in to St. Louis prepared for a tough road games against one of the Western Conference’s better outfits.
St. Louis looks to shake off a very frustrating loss in Pittsburgh Wednesday, having fallen apart late after a goalie interference challenge was upheld, before allowing a power play goal on the ensuing penalty.
St. Louis may hold the West’s second-best points % this season, but that still puts it below seven Eastern conference clubs, including the Capitals.
Will we see one of the tougher Eastern Conference’s very best in Washington able to assert some dominance in St. Louis?
Capitals Continue to Outplay Metrics
The Capitals have played the majority of the season short three or more top-six forwards, as well as a ton of depth guys behind that, often forcing a number of AHL-caliber players into the lineup.
Washington has still managed a 20-6-8 record with a dreadful 2-8 record past regulation, and has only lost by two goals twice, with one involving an empty-netter.
The Capitals have also seen some key pieces out on the back-end of late, but have fought through a messy month roster-wise, still managing a very strong 55.72 xGF% with a 6-2-2 record.
The Caps have scored +15.97 goals above expected this season, which moves their total to 146.71 above expected over the last five-plus seasons.
The team’s top players hold a notable dislike for pointless burner shots, and deadly playmakers such as Evgeny Kuznetsov, John Carlson and even Alex Ovechkin — who’s passing in the offensive zone tends to be widely underrated — are tremendous at creating plays through the box which bend this data, as well as holding far above-average shooting talent.
Behind the offensive potency the Capitals have stabilized in their own zone more than we have seen the last few seasons, and stronger play drivers in Martin Fehervary and Trevor Van Riemsdyk playing minutes as opposed to Zdeno Chara and Brenden Dillon is easy causation as to why, as well as the play of Nick Jensen, who has taken his game to another level this season.
It’s unclear whether the Caps will go with Ilya Samsonov or Vitek Vanecek here, but the difference between the two does not move the needle much with regards to potential wagers.
Samsonov holds a -1.9 goals saved above expected rating with a .908 save %, while Vanecek holds a -2.8 goals saved above expected rating with a .910 save %.
How Real Are These Blues?
The Blues’ impressive 6-4 win in the Winter Classic certainly brought some added attention to their recent play, and brought into the spotlight the excellent offensive seasons by guys like Jordan Kyrou and Vlad Tarasenko.
The question is how legitimate these Blues are, especially when at full-health, which is a luxury they have not oft been afforded this season.
The team can no doubt continue to score at a good rate going forward and holds a deadly top nine, but the shaky play from some of their depth defenders keeps them a tier below the elite of the league this year.
St. Louis also continues to hold below-average play-driving numbers, with a 48.47 xGF% over their last 10 games, which I would agree isn’t the be all, end all, but that is still low for a supposed contending team.
It wouldn’t be shocking to see the Blues go with Ville Husso here, having played Jordan Binnington in each contest since the layoff, and we should see clarity on that after the morning skate.
Tarasenko, Jake Walman, and Scott Perunovich will be sidelined due to COVID-19.
Capitals vs. Blues Pick
With some positive regression past regulation and better luck with regards to injuries, the Capitals could very realistically have skated to an even more dominant record, and they have essentially found ways to be in virtually every single game this season with heavily depleted lineups.
They should be very close to full-health for this one, while St. Louis has some guys on the COVID protocol list, and the Blues are obviously more likely than the Caps to lose additional guys to that list before puck drop.
St. Louis does hold a potent top-nine up front, as well as a better power play unit, but I think that the Capitals should control more of the game at 5-on-5, and I like Washington’s chances here offering an altogether more balanced game and roster than St. Louis.
To me the Capitals hold a lot of value at -105 at the time of writing (DraftKings), and I would play that number early and down to -120, as I think we see closer to -120 on the Capitals by puck drop, and I am going to put a unit there.
I also think we should see both teams score a few here, and I like a half-unit on a parlay of the Caps ML + Over 6 at +281 as well.
Pick: Washington Capitals -105 I Half Unit Caps ML + Over 6 +281
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