Odds taken From DraftKings Sportbook.
The Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins are fighting for a playoff spot in the metropolitan division. If the Capitals win, they will take the Penguins third spot, but if the Penguins win, they could take over that second spot and secure their playoff position.
The Washington Capitals have been playing .500 hockey lately. They have not been great since the NHL returned from postponement, but they still have a good roster. The Capitals have a great center and winger in Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov.
Ovechkin may be 36, but he still knows how to put the puck in the back of the net. Defensively, the Capitals have John Carlson and Dmitry Orlov slowing down opposing teams’ centers and wingers.
The Capitals only significant flaw is their goaltending. They have Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek splitting time, and neither has come out as the better goaltender.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have been backsliding in their last couple of games. They have a great goaltender in Tristan Jarry, a solid winger in Jake Guentzel, an older Sidney Crosby who can still score, and a veteran defenseman in Kris Letang. Letang may be in his 16th season, but he is still playing over 25 minutes a game.
I do not think this is the game where the Penguins snap their streak, so I have to pick the Capitals to win it.
Washington Capitals beat Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2. Washington Capitals cover, Under 6 goals.
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|Washington Capitals||Head-to-Head||Pittsburgh Penguins|
|Peter Laviolette||Head Coach||Mike Sullivan|
|24-12-9 (4th in Metropolitan Division)||Standing||27-11-7 (3rd in Metropolitan Division)|
|Alex Ovechkin (58)||Points||Jake Guentzel (43)|
|Alex Ovechkin (29)||Goals||Jake Guentzel (23)|
|Evgeny Kuznetsov (30)||Assists||Kris Letang (35)|
|Nick Jensen (20)||+/-||Kris Letang (16)|
|Alex Ovechkin (4.62)||Shots (Per Game)||Jake Guentzel (3.62)|
The Capitals are playing on the road and are the underdogs in this game. They have been playing better hockey than the Penguins in the last few games, so they can win this battle. However, if they plan to do so, they need to limit Pittsburgh’s shots and convert power plays.
The Penguins average 34.4 shots per game. The Capitals cannot allow them to take this many shots in this game. If the Penguins take 34 shots, they will overwhelm the Capitals goaltender and probably score a lot. If the Capitals want to limit the Penguins scoring, they need to limit their amount of shots.
The Capitals have one of the worst power-play units in the league; they only convert a little over 15% of their power-plays. They need to do better in this game. They will only have a couple of power-play opportunities, so they need to convert at least one. That could be the difference between a victory and a defeat.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have lost their last three games, so they are desperately looking for a victory. They have the advantage of playing at home, but that is not enough. They need to focus on getting second-chance shots and riding the hot hand.
The Penguins are fortunate to be facing some mediocre Capitals goaltenders. Neither of the Penguins goaltenders are particularly dominant, so the Penguins might be able to slip one or two goals past them that better goaltenders would stop. One or two penguins have to attack the net on offense and look for rebounds to put back in the net. They can get an easy goal this way.
I normally would not say that a hockey team has to ride the hot hand; that is more of a basketball phrase. However, the Penguins are going through a three-game skid and need to look for help wherever they can get it. That help may come from the expected places (Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel) or some more unexpected places (Drew O’Connor, Jason Zucker). Wherever the help comes from, they must take it. This may be an unorthodox approach, but it could be critical to the Penguins winning.
Left winger Alexander Ovechkin may not be as fast as he once was, but he is still a talented scorer and attracts a lot of attention on the ice. The veteran leads his team in points (58) and goals (29). He also has an impressive +/- of 15 and plays almost 22 minutes a game.
Ovechkin is still a wizard with the puck in his hands. He can score with more ease than most players in the league and has some passing skill. The Penguins defensemen have to give him the respect he deserves and not give him any space. If they do, he may end up with a hat trick.
Defenseman Kris Letang is putting together a nice season at the age of 34. He has five goals, 35 assists, a +/- of 16, and he leads his team in TOI (25:44).
Letang knows when to make the right pass. His 35 assists are seventh-best in the NHL. The Capitals need to be watching for those passes at all times.
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|Washington Capitals vs Pittsburgh Penguins Information|
|What||Washington Capitals vs Pittsburgh Penguins|
|Where||PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania|
|When||Tuesday, February 1, 7:00 PM EST|
|How to Watch||ESPN+|
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Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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