Friday NHL Odds, Pick, Prediction: Washington Capitals vs. Detroit Red Wings Betting Preview

Friday NHL Odds, Pick, Prediction: Washington Capitals vs. Detroit Red Wings Betting Preview article feature image
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Scott Taetsch/Getty Images. Pictured: Alex Ovechkin

  • The Detroit Red Wings return to action Friday when they take on the Washington Capitals.
  • It has been a long break for the Red Wings, who have had 13 days in between games.
  • Nick Martin breaks down the matchup below and details why he's backing Washington.

Capitals vs. Red Wings Odds

Capitals Odds -130
Red Wings Odds +110
Over/Under 5.5
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
TV ESPN+
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

After a 13-day break, the Detroit Red Wings are back in action on Friday night. The Wings will be home underdogs against the Washington Capitals, who got back in action with a win over Nashville on Wednesday night.

The Capitals boast a terrific 9-3-3 record on the road this season, but the Wings have sparkled at home, going 11-3-2 in 16 games.

Detroit enters this game in a playoff spot (albeit with more games played than the teams in the chasing pack), while Washington has the second-most points and third-best points percentage in the NHL.

Are oddsmakers underestimating Washington on Friday?

The Capitals Have Battled Adversity

Despite a litany of injury issues to their top-six, the Caps have still found a way to post the NHL’s fifth-best goals per game this season. Wednesday night’s contest with Nashville was the first time that Washington had all four of its regular centers: Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom, Lars Eller and Nick Dowd in the lineup for the same game.

With the injuries up front, Washington’s defense has had to step up and the unit has answered the bell in a big way. But now it’s the blueline that is missing bodies as Martin Fehervary, Nicklas Jensen and Justin Schultz are all questionable for Friday night after sitting out Wednesday.

The results without Jensen, Fehervary and Schultz on Wednesday night were still encouraging, with the team posting a +2.08 expected goals differential in a 5-3 win. Top prospect Alexander Alexeyev made his long-awaited debut, and was solid with a 64.53 xGF%, albeit in just 10:35 of time on ice on a makeshift third pairing with Matt Irwin.

Ilya Samsonov will likely draw the start for this one, and has been altogether close to league average for a team that doesn’t need much more than that from its goaltender. Samsonov has a -1.2 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx) with a .907 save % so far this season.

Does Regression Loom for Detroit?

The Red Wings were expected to be a lottery team this season with an Over/Under of 78.5 points, so it’s easy to see them as a regression candidate for the rest of the season. That said, Detroit has clawed its way into a playoff spot at the holiday break, which is an accomplishment for a team with more than a few replacement-level players.

The top of Detroit’s roster has been terrific though, especially Calder Trophy candidates Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider. Even if Raymond and Seider continue to excel, it’s hard to imagine this team sticking around with the 40.7% expected goals rate it posted in December.

The Wings should take the ice at essentially 100% — barring some unforeseen additions to the Covid-19 protocol list — but I still believe this roster lacks the depth needed to contend for a playoff spot and that could show on Friday night against a balanced Capitals team.

Alex Nedeljkovic looks likely to get the nod in goal for Detroit and the 25-year-old has been terrific all season with a +6.4 GSAx and .916 SV% in 21 games this season.

Red Wings vs. Capitals Pick

Washington has not played many games with a full squad, but should be close to it on Friday night and that makes the Caps an intriguing bet as road favorites against a team that should regress as the season goes on. And even if Washington’s blueline is makeshift for the time being, the Capitals saw some encouraging performances from the fill-ins against Nashville on Wednesday.

The Capitals have posted a 57.9% expected goals rate in December and should be able to drive play against the Wings, who have struggled to do so all season. Washington is also a great finishing team and should have ample opportunities against a team that has allowed the third-most expected goals in December.

This line is likely to be on the move towards Washington, but I think the Caps have value up to -150.

Pick: Washington Capitals -150 or better

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