NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Capitals vs. Penguins (Dec. 10)
Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Tom Wilson, Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin
Capitals vs. Penguins Odds
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
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This will be the 60th time that Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin will face one another in the regular season. This matchup never gets old, even in year 17 of their respective careers.
Ovechkin is in the middle of one of his most impressive seasons ever and is a legitimate Hart Trophy candidate, while Crosby is catching up to speed after missing a chunk of time to start the season.
The Penguins are wrapping up a 5-game road trip where they have gone 2-1-1, but have won their last two by a combined score of 10-2. The Capitals have won their last two games as well, by a combined score of 7-4, and they sit atop of the Metropolitan Division with sole possession of first place.
Can Ovechkin Keep This Pace Up?
The Washington Capitals have had one of the best offenses in the NHL since Alexander Ovechkin first set foot on NHL ice. This season has been no different. The Caps currently have the fifth best offense in the league, averaging 3.5 goals scored per game. Ovechkin, 36, is the driving force of the offense with 20 goals through his first 26 games.
It isn’t just the forwards that are putting the puck in the net for the Caps. John Carlson, who always seems to be in the discussion for the Norris Trophy, is playing up to form once again this season. Carlson’s six goals and 18 assists have him tied for second in points amongst NHL defensemen.
On the defensive side of the puck, the Capitals have been solid. They’re allowing 10.41 high-danger chances per 60 minutes and 2.46 goals against per game.
This team isn’t usually defined by it’s defense and goaltending, but Ilya Samsonov has been stupendous in goal, skating to a 11-1-0 record and a +4.0 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx).
Can the Pens Remain Strong Defensively?
With Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel and Kris Letang on the roster, you’d think the Penguins would be known as an offensive power, but over the past few seasons it’s been Pittsburgh’s defensive play that has driven the team to success.
Pittsburgh ranks fourth overall in expected goals allowed, sixth in high-danger chances conceded and its penalty kill sits atop the league at 91.9%. This defensive structure has allowed Tristan Jarry to have a bounce-back season in goal.
After having a shaky playoffs last season, Jarry has a very impressive +11.1 Goals Saved Above Expected and is amongst the top three goalies with a 1.92 Goals Against Average (GAA).
Pittsburgh has all the right ingredients to shut down their opponent any night.
Capitals vs. Penguins Pick
In years past, you would look at a Penguins vs. Capitals matchup and immediately think it would be an offensive barn burner. However, this year, both teams have shown plenty of defensive resiliency and with this being a divisional rivalry, I think this game could be pretty tight.
Samsonov and Jarry have been incredible in the blue paint, and while both teams do have the talent offensively, I think it’ll be the defenses and goaltending that determine the outcome.
This use to be Crosby vs. Ovechkin, but tonight, for me at least, it’s about the goaltenders. I like the under.
Pick: Under 6 -115