The Washington Capitals are big favorites on Thursday night as they host the New Jersey Devils on NBCSN. The Devils are having a miserable season as they have one of the worst records in the league while the Capitals are considered Stanley Cup contenders. The Devils have been hopeless on the road going 4-17 while Washington is 12-5 at home. It has been really ugly lately for the Devils in this series as they have lost the last seven to the Capitals.
At 7 p.m. ET, tune into NBCSN for live television coverage of this NHL game on Thursday, December 29, 2016, at the Verizon Center.
We'll have NHL odds at BookMaker.eu available for this and every game on the NHL Thursday schedule.
Each team will have had one day off to get ready for this first half of a home and home that begins in Washington on Thursday and concludes on Saturday in New Jersey.
The Capitals are going to be listed as huge favorites in this contest with the line probably approaching -300. Even though these teams are in the same division, the Metropolitan, this is their first meeting of the season.
The Devils are scoring only 2.3 goals per game which is 27th in the league. Their power play has been poor as they rank 22nd in the league at 15.7%. The Devils are giving up 2.9 goals per game which is 25th in the league. Somewhat surprisingly, the penalty killing has been pretty good as they are 11th in the league at 82.4%.
The Capitals are 15th in the league at 2.7 goals per game with the power play at 19% which ranked 12th in the NHL. Washington has been good on defense as they give up just 2.1 goals per game, 3rd-best in the league. They are 6th in penalty killing at 84.8%.
Player to Watch
The key player in this game is Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin who is not at the top of the league in goal scoring as he usually is. He is averaging just 3.94 shots per game compare to 5.04 last season. He still leads the team in goals with 14 but that is less than he had at this time a year ago. And he is very unlikely to win his fifth straight Richard Trophy for most goals scored in the league as he is already 8 behind Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby who has 22. There are nine players in the league with more goals this season than Ovechkin.
The lack of goal scoring is a bit of a concern for the Capitals. “Yeah, I have concern his production’s down because we need his production to win,” Capitals Coach Barry Trotz said. “I know that the history will state that he will get on some hot streak here and he’ll score some goals, but if we’re going to be successful, we’ve got to have Ovi being productive.” Ovechkin is currently on pace to score 37 goals which would be the fewest he has scored since 2011-2012 when he had 38.
“Right now, he’s had a dry spell where he hasn’t had a lot of shots.” Trotz said, “Is that a little bit of him, a little bit of his linemates, a little bit of how we’re going, or whatever? But he’s capable of going through a week where he’ll get 10 goals, and we’ll go, ‘Everything’s fine.’ He’s dynamic, and we need him to win, plain and simple.”
Free NHL Picks
The price is high but how can you make any case for taking New Jersey? They have been awful on the road this season and they have dropped the last seven in this series plus this year’s New Jersey team looks to be worse than last year’s. I will lay the price and take the Capitals.
NHL Odds: Capitals 4, Devils 1
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