NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Capitals vs. Flyers (Dec. 21)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Capitals vs. Flyers (Dec. 21) article feature image
Credit:

Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images. Pictured: Carter Hart #79 and Rasmus Ristolainen #70 of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Editor’s note: This game has been postponed due to COVID complications affecting the Capitals.

Capitals vs. Flyers Odds

Capitals Odds -135
Flyers Odds +115
Over/Under 6 (-105/-115)
Time 7 p.m. ET
TV ESPN+, Hulu
Odds via DraftKings, updated at 4 p.m. ET. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

On Broad Street, the Philadelphia Flyers host the Washington Capitals at Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers have been on a roll, winning four out of their last five, while Washington has shown more inconsistency. 

After getting off to a hot start this season, Washington is coming back down to Earth a bit. In their last 10 games, the Caps are playing .500 hockey with a 5-3-2 record. Washington will look to get back on the wagon after suffering a loss most recently to the Kings.

Ever since firing Alain Vigneault and hiring Mike Yeo, the Flyers are seeming to get into a groove. They have since gone 4-2-1 after dealing with a crippling eight-game losing streak and hope to continue their momentum with a win on Tuesday.

Capitals Trying to Find a Spark

Washington has an exceptionally talented roster from top to bottom. They started hot to begin the season, but many have cooled off since. For example, Alex Ovechkin is their lead scorer with 22 goals, and the next-leading scorers at nine goals are Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson.

As good as Kuznetsov, Wilson, and John Carlson are, there needs to be more. They will also be without TJ Oshie and Niklas Backstrom, who are major driving forces on offense. So while the Caps are fine in the standings, other teams will catch up to them.

It may be a tough stretch for the Caps, but they’ve always driven play with the best of them. They’re currently the second-best team in Expected Goals per 60 minutes with a 3.1 xGF and have generated the 12th-most High Danger Chances. What’s shocking is that their power play has been extremely poor given their successes in previous seasons. Currently they stand in the bottom five, scoring at a 15.6% clip.

The Caps have split the net this season with Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek, and each has held his own. They have posted identical Save Percentages at .910. Vanecek, who’s had the most starts, currently stands at a poor -2.8 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx) while Samsonov has a -0.1 GSAx.

Given that Vanecek started the past two games, I would expect Samsonov to get the nod. However, because it’s unpredictable to know who’s playing, it’s something to keep tabs on.


Flyers Surging Under Yeo

Making a coaching change was the smartest thing the Flyers could have done to save their season. Alain Vigneault is a respected coach around the league, but as we saw in Winnipeg, if the team needs a new voice, it’s time to make a move.

The Flyers are talented up front and have a few talented players who can cause damage. Claude Giroux, Cam Atkinson, Sean Couturier, and Travis Konecny all have game-breaking ability. As the Flyers look to climb back up the standings, it’s worth keeping an eye on them.

While Philly continues to climb up the standings, they’re also looking to improve their 5-on-5 play. They currently stand 22nd in the league in Expected Goals per 60 with a 2.2 xGF and generate the fifth-fewest High Danger Chances.

Their power play isn’t that special either, placing just two spots above their counterparts, and scores at a 15.9% rate. It’s been an underwhelming offensive season so far, but there’s still plenty of hockey to be played.

Carter Hart has been through a whirlwind in his young career. After his rookie year, he was a budding superstar. His second year was historically bad, and this year he’s making a resurgence. With a solid .918 SV% and an 8.5 GSAx, Hart is playing exceptionally well given the Flyers’ struggles in front of him. Backup Martin Jones recently took the crease in their win against Ottawa, so I expect Hart to get the nod tonight.

Flyers vs. Capitals Pick

Given the fact that both teams have been on the same path the past 10 games, Philadelphia has shown more consistency, especially after hiring Mike Yeo.

I also have more faith in Hart in goal than either Samsonov or Vanecek. The Flyers are riding high, and I can see them continuing their momentum. I see a ton of value in backing Philly in this matchup.

Pick: Philadelphia Flyers +115

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