Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Free Preview

Jose VasquezArticles, Hockey, NHL

PPG Paints Arena plays host to a Metropolitan Division showdown as the Washington Capitals pay a visit to Western PA to meet the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sportsnet will showcase the game, and the opening face-off takes place at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, February 2.

Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Odds

Pittsburgh heads into the contest as the heavy favorite with a moneyline of -150. The line for Washington sits at +130 and the Over/Under (O/U) is set at 6 goals. The odds for betting the total stand at -115 money on the over and -105 for the under.

Washington is 30-20 straight up (SU) and has earned 5.8 units for moneyline bettors this year. Through 50 regular season outings, 28 of its games have gone over the total, while 22 have gone under and none have pushed. This 2017-18 Capitals team is 11-12 SU on the road.

Washington has converted on 20.9 percent of its power play opportunities this year, a figure that places them in the top-10 among NHL teams. On the other hand, its penalty kill is ranked 18th out of 31 teams, and it has successfully killed off 80.4 percent of all penalties.

Washington, as a collective unit, has been called for penalties 4.2 times per game overall in the 2017-18 season, 4.4 per game over its last five outings total, and 4.4 per game over its last five on the road. The team has been forced to kill penalties 10.0 minutes per contest over their last five road games.

Boasting a .916 save percentage and 28.4 saves per game, Braden Holtby (26-11-2) has been the primary option in goal for Washington this season. If Washington chooses to rest him, however, they may go with Philipp Grubauer (4-12-3), who has a .917 save percentage and 2.56 goals against average this year.

The visiting Capitals have relied on Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov heavily this season. Ovechkin (53 points) has tallied 30 goals and 23 assists, and has recorded two or more points 14 times. Kuznetsov has 13 goals and 33 assists to his name, and has registered a point in 29 games.

On the other bench, Pittsburgh is 28-24 straight up (SU) and has lost 3.1 units for moneyline bettors this year. Through 52 regular season matches, 26 of its games have gone over the total, while 24 have gone under and just two have pushed. It’s 18-8 SU as the home team this year.

Pittsburgh currently has the second-strongest power-play unit in the NHL, as the team has scored on 26.7 percent of its extra-man chances this season. On the other hand, its penalty kill is ranked 12th overall, and it’s successfully killed off 82.2 percent of all penalties.

Pittsburgh players have been sent to the penalty box 4.3 times per game in total this season, and 5.0 per game over their last five at home. The team has been forced to stave off opponent power plays 8.8 minutes per game over their last five outings.

Matt Murray (25.2 saves per game) has been the primary selection in goal for Pittsburgh. Murray has 18 wins, 14 losses, and one overtime loss and has maintained a poor .906 save percentage and 2.90 goals against average this year.

The Pens will be led on offense by Phil Kessel (21 goals, 38 assists).

Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Free Picks

Prediction: SU Winner – Penguins, O/U – Under

Betting Trends

  • The under has hit in three of Pittsburgh’s last five games.
  • Washington has managed 29.6 shot attempts per game over its last five road games while Pittsburgh is averaging 37.2 shots per game over its last five at home.
  • The Capitals are 11-4 when they serve fewer penalty minutes than their opponent and 16-9 in games where they’re in the box for fewer than 10 total penalty minutes.
  • Pittsburgh is 2-1 in games decided by a shootout this season while Washington is 3-1 in shootouts.
  • Pittsburgh skaters have averaged 9.0 takeaways per game over its last five home games, an improvement over its season average of 6.5 takeaways per game (ranked 22nd in the NHL).
  • Washington has created 8.6 takeaways per game over its last five road games, an improvement over its season average of 7.3 takeaways per game (ranked 16th in the NHL).