Thursday NHL Odds & Picks: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers Preview (August 6)
Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Travis Konecny and Jakub Voracek
- The Capitals are a small betting favorite over the Flyers in the NHL's round-robin on Thursday.
- Philly will rest goalie Carter Hart and instead turn to Brian Elliott, who has been below average this season.
- Get Pete Truszkowski's full breakdown and bet for Flyers vs. Caps below.
Capitals vs. Flyers Odds
|Capitals Odds||-120 [BET NOW]|
|Flyers Odds||+104 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||6 [BET NOW]|
|Time||4 p.m. ET|
The top two teams in the Metropolitan Division face off in their second round-robin game, and both teams have plenty to play for.
These teams finished one point apart, with the Capitals earning 90 points in 69 games and the Flyers trailing just behind. The similarities do not end there; their whole statistical profiles are a near mirror images of each other.
Per Natural Stat Trick:
|Expected Goal %||51.20%||50.64%|
|5-5 Save %||.913||.915|
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
Stats cited from Natural Stat Trick.
Philadelphia made a statement in their first round-robin game by handling Boston, the NHL’s best team during the regular season, 4-1. Philadelphia got goals from some unlikely sources, including Michael Raffl, Nate Thompson and Philippe Myers. Unfortunately for the Flyers, Raffl was injured in the game and will be replaced in Thursday’s line-up by Joel Farabee.
Despite not getting on the score-sheet, the top line of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Jakub Voracek were dominant. When the trio was on the ice, the Flyers had over 76% of the shot attempts and 70% of the expected goals. Travis Konecny’s line with Scott Laughton and Kevin Hayes did score a goal, but struggled driving play. They will look to play more in the Capitals’ zone in this game.
In Sunday’s game, goalie Carter Hart stopped 34 of 35 shots, but he’ll be on the bench for this one. Hart was fourth in Goals Saved Above Expectation this season with 7.25, according to Evolving Hockey.
The team announced that back-up goalie Brian Elliott will be in net on Thursday. The Flyers went from simply a competitive team to a borderline elite team once they stopped using Brian Elliott on a semi-regular basis.
Elliott is a bottom-tier goalie who has a -6.77 Goals Saved Above Expectation. In their announcement, the team cited Elliott’s 2-0-0 record against Washington this season with a 2.00 goals against average and .926 save percentage.
A two-game sample is way too small to draw any conclusive evidence from. At this point, it’s safe to say that Elliott starting in net makes Philadelphia a worse team.
Goals Saved Above Expectation (GSAx) is an advanced statistic that measures a goaltender’s performance against the quality of scoring chances he faced. It is a better catch-all metric compared to save percentage because every SV% counts every saved shot and goal the same, while GSAx weights shots by the quality of the scoring chance. GSAx numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.
Speaking of teams starting an inferior option in net, Washington will be doing that for the remainder of their season. Ilya Samsonov suffered an off-ice injury in Russia during the NHL’s pause. This ensures the team will start Braden Holtby moving forward.
Holtby is not far removed from being a Vezina winning goalie. He also won a Stanley Cup two seasons ago, but this past season was ugly. His Goals Saved Above Expectation was -12.82, which is a bottom 10 mark in the league. His save percentage this season was .897. A save percentage under .900 is the equivalent of a baseball player batting under .200, the Mendoza line.
In the Caps’ first game, they held their own against Tampa Bay in a shootout loss. The aforementioned Holtby was solid, stopping 26 of 28 shots. Washington was near even in shot attempts, and actually outperformed Tampa Bay in score adjusted high danger chances as well as expected goals.
Alex Ovechkin did not score against Tampa, which means you can just about pencil him in for a goal against the Flyers. His line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson had trouble controlling play, but we know that won’t continue.
Their second line with Nicklas Backstrom, Jakub Vrana and T.J. Oshie did a good job picking up the slack. Few teams have a top-six forward unit with this much talent.
John Carlson, the likely Norris Trophy winner from this past season, missed the Capitals’ first game. He practiced with the team yesterday, but there was no indication either way whether he would be in the lineup against Philadelphia. Carlson is the best offensive defenseman in the league and eats minutes for this Capitals team. He quarterbacks their powerplay as well, making him an integral part of this team.
In addition to Carlson, Washington will be without third line center Lars Eller, who left the bubble due to his wife giving birth to their child. Travis Boyd will likely replace Eller in the lineup.
As I’ve outlined, these two teams are extremely evenly matched. Washington is a slightly larger favorite than they should be. If Carter Hart was in net, this would be an easy play on the Flyers for me.
My numbers tell me to look towards the over here. You have two teams with above average groups of forwards and defensemen who can skate, and neither team has its best option starting in net.
However, betting overs in this NHL postseason outside of the Oilers/Blackhawks series has been the equivalent of setting money on fire. The ice has been choppy due to the wear and tear put on it which hurts skilled teams. The total in this game is also 6; a touch higher than the standard NHL total.
I would play the Flyers. I don’t love the play with Elliott in net, but as long as the Flyers are plus-money, they are the side with the value.
If you’re not afraid of the most obvious of trends staring you in the face and telling you you’re an idiot, the over is worth a look as well.