Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals (11/9 @ 7:30 PM EST)
Puck Line: Penguins -1.5
Money Line: Penguins -130 / Capitals +110
Overview and Betting Info
The Pittsburgh Penguins (4-6-2) will be heading to D.C. Wednesday night to take on the Washington Capitals (6-6-2). It’s a matchup between Metropolitan division rivals that features two of the most iconic players in the game’s history. The overall series lead is at stake, as the Caps currently lead it 44-43-0-13. The Capitals won three of the four matchups last season.
The Penguins have gone 4-8 against the puck line, including just once in their seven road games. They have gone over the total seven times this season.
The Caps are 8-5 versus the puck line, including going 4-3 at home. They’ve hit the under eight times this season, including four at home.
The Penguins come into Wednesday desperate for a win, as they currently own a seven-game losing streak. The season started strong, with the Pens winning four of their first five before dropping their next seven. Pittsburgh’s offense has done well, averaging the sixth most goals per game in the NHL. The defense has hampered them, though, ranking 26th in goals allowed per game.
The Pens will look different Wednesday as they shake up their lines. One of the most significant changes we’ll see is on the blue line, with Marcus Pettersson promoted to the top line in place of longtime Pen Brian Dumoulin. He’ll be slotted next to Kris Letang, who has been struggling. Letang has seven points, but he’s been making poor decisions leading him to be caught out of position. The Pens need Letang if they want to turn their season around, so keep an eye on how this new pairing does Wednesday night.
The Pittsburgh attack is again led by veterans Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Crosby leads in goals (6) and points (14), while Malkin is close behind (5 goals, 12 points). The forwards will be getting a boost, with Josh Archibald returning and Teddy Bluegar set to make his season debut. They also brought up Filip Hallander, who should be an immediate upgrade to a penalty kill unit that ranks 26th in the NHL. This will give their attack much more depth to an already talented group of forwards. They’ll need it to support goaltender Tristan Jarry will get the start again. He’s 4-3 on the season and saving over 90% of shots. His 3.5 goals allowed average leaves something to be desired, but we’ll see if the shakeups on the blueline help Jarry improve on it Wednesday night.
The Capitals saw a four-game losing streak end on Monday with an impressive 5-4 win over Edmonton. The Caps needed a game like that, as they had scored two or fewer goals in five of their previous six games. One thing that was not addressed was the defense, which has given up the tenth most goals in the league.
Alex Ovechkin has started the season strong (8 goals, 12 points) and is looking for his second consecutive 50-goal season. He has twice as many goals as Dylan Strome, who is tied with Conor Sheary and Anthony Mantha for second with four. A big part of the offensive breakout was veteran Evgeny Kuznetsov finally finding the back of the net. Though he was adding assists, he had been goalless before scoring two on Monday. Aside from that ground, the Caps will need Evgeny Kuznetsov to keep the goal-scoring going, as he found the net for the first two times on Monday. He’ll be the player to watch Wednesday, as the Cap’s scoring seems to rise and fall depending on his play.
While the Caps have the offensive weapons to make another playoff run, the defense needs to be improved. They’ll be without half of their top pairing with John Carlson. Nick Jensen and Erik Gustafsson are a solid duo, but they’ll need betting play from Erik Gustafsson, who sports a +/- of -5. They’re supported by a talented goaltender Darcy Kuemper who is 4-5 and saving 91% of shots this season. He has the sixth most saves in the NHL and is only averaging 2.42 goals per game. If the Caps can straighten out their blue line, the Pens will find goals hard to come by.
Free Pick: Over 6.5 Goals
Given the state of these defenses, it’s hard not to go over here. In their four matchups last season, they went over three times and averaged 7.25 goals per game. We also look to the goalies, who have been giving up goals as of late. Jarry has allowed 4.6 goals per game over his last five starts, while Kuemper has allowed at least three goals in his previous three starts. Conversely, Crosby and Ovechkin never fail to disappoint when they meet. The two legends likely won’t have many more seasons of high-quality play left, making these last ones important. We see both of them finding the net at least once. We also love the new depth at forward for the Pens and believe Kuznetsov is about to get hot for the Caps. It should be a fun game, but we’re rolling with over 6.5 goals in this one.