Tuesday night, the New Jersey Devils and Washington Capitals face off in D.C. The Devils (8-11-2) blanked the Bruins 1-0 in their last game, their second win since February 18th, while the Capitals (14-6-4) defeated the Flyers 3-1 for their fifth win in their last six contests.
Here is a closer look at Tuesday’s game, from key stats to players to watch. Washington are sizable -200 favorites at home, while New Jersey are an underdog through and through at +170.
By the Numbers
Washington are at a clear advantage on the offensive side of things. The Caps rank eighth in the NHL with 3.21 goals per game on just under 29 shots. Their power play has also been excellent at 26.2 percent, the seventh-highest mark in the league. As for New Jersey, the Devils are just 27th with 2.43 goals despite averaging a shot more than Washington. Their power play is also in the dumps, with a 12.9 percent success rate that is the third-lowest in hockey.
On the defensive side, the Devils actually have a slight advantage in goals allowed per game, giving up an average of 3.05 compared to Washington’s 3.08. However, the Capitals allow over a shot less per game and have a penalty kill that at 82.1 percent is just outside the top-10. New Jersey meanwhile carries a 65.1 percent penalty kill rate into the game, the worst in the NHL.
Devils Betting Preview
After starting the season 6-3-2, New Jersey has won just twice while suffering eight regulation losses. Just three points outside of last-place in the East Division, New Jersey needs to turn things around fast to avoid yet another draft lottery.
New Jersey’s leading contributor has been Pavel Zacha. Zacha leads the team with ten assists, two of which in the last two games, to go along with six goals. Miles Wood is the leading goal-scorer with seven on the year, but with just two since the beginning of February. The 2019 first overall pick Jack Hughes is also building off a disappointing rookie year and how has five goals and eight assists, placing him behind only Zacha for the team-lead in points. Additionally, veterans like Kyle Palmieri and P.K. Subban have picked things up in recent days. The former All-Star Palmieri netted his fourth goal of the year on Sunday, while the former Norris Trophy winner Subban has points in two straight games.
With the backup Scott Wedgewood starting on Sunday, look for the regular starter Mackenzie Blackwood to return to the net on Tuesday. Blackwood is 5-6-1 this season with a 2.97 GAA, and .904 save percentage.
Capitals Betting Preview
The Capitals started off the year with points in their first nine games before dropping four straight in regulation. But they have recovered since then with eight wins over their last 11 games, trailing the Islanders by just two points for first place in the East Division.
Veteran Nicklas Backstrom has been shouldering the load for the Capitals this season. The center leads the team with ten goals and, after back-to-back games with an assist, 17 helpers. Second on the team is John Carlson, the veteran d-man who has 15 assists to go along with five goals. Of course, Alex Ovechkin is also in the mix, as the future Hall of Famer scored his eighth goal of the season on Tuesday to add to his ten assists. T.J. Oshie also has assisted in back-to-back games, giving him 12 on the year. Finally, Jakub Vrana has really stepped up as of late, netting points in four of his last five games to give him eight goals and eight assists this season. It’s especially helpful, considering Tom Wilson, Washington’s fourth-leading scorer, is still suspended from a dirty play last week.
Washington will have to decide whether to start Vitek Vanecek or Ilya Samsonov, the latter of whom started on Sunday. Vanecek is 10-5-3 with a 2.82 GAA and .908 save percentage, while Samsonov is 3-0-1 with a 2.45 GAA and .907 save percentage.
In the three previous meetings between these teams, the Capitals won all three in regulation. Expect more of the same on Tuesday when they face off again in the nation’s capital. Look for Washington’s power play to capitalize on New Jersey’s league-worst penalty kill and for Backstrom, Ovechkin, and company to take advantage of an average goaltender in Blackwood. Bet the Capitals to keep it rolling with a win.
Pick: Capitals to win