It is outdoor hockey on Saturday night, as the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Washington Capitals on NBC. The Capitals will be the home team at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland and it will be the 25th game in the NHL’s Stadium Series. The temperature should be around 50 degrees, but the ice should be very good because there is one of the best mobile rink refrigeration units in the world right next to the stadium. Let’s look at the game and NHL picks.
Don't miss the ice action from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 3, 2018. Catch every moment of the game live on NBC.
We'll have NHL odds at BookMaker.eu available for this and every game on the NHL Saturday schedule.
Both teams have had plenty of time to get ready for this game, as each team has been off since Tuesday. The Maple Leafs come into this game in second place in the Atlantic Division with a record of 39-20-7 for 85 points. They are 17-17 on the road this season with 15 games going over the total, 17 going under, with two pushes. They are scoring about 3.2 goals per game and giving up 2.8 per contest. The Maple Leafs will not have their superstar Auston Matthews for this game, as he is still out due to injury.
The Capitals are coming off a poor month of February that saw them go just 6-6-2. Washington is 36-21-7 and their lead in the Metropolitan Division is down to just one point over the Philadelphia Flyers. The Capitals are 22-11 at home this season, with 16 games going over the total, 16 going under, with one push. They are scoring about 3 goals per game and giving up about 3 per contest.
Head coach Barry Trotz said to the Washington Post that his team is excited to be playing this game on Saturday night. “I’m a big military fan in terms of what our service people do for us and I’ve been in Annapolis many times, so I think it’s gonna be spectacular,” Trotz said. “Two good teams are gonna go nose to nose like we met in the playoffs.”
Washington beat Chicago in their last outdoor game, winning 3-2 in the 2015 Winter Classic at Nationals Park. Forward Tom Wilson said the team is prepared for the hoopla. “It’s different. You’re outside your comfort zone. It’s fun to play outdoors. There’s a lot of attention. You get family and stuff in.”
The Maple Leafs are just 14th in the league on the power play at just over 20%, but they are 3rd in penalty killing at nearly 84%. The Capitals are almost the opposite, as they are 5th on the power play and just 18th in penalty killing.
These teams met in last year’s playoffs and the Capitals won in six games. They have split their first two games this season, with each team winning on the road. The Capitals won 4-2 in Toronto, while Toronto won 2-0 in Washington. The Capitals have won 8 of the last 10 at home in this series, with 7 of the 10 going under the total.
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Outdoor games are always a bit tricky to predict, as you never know how the two teams will react. I think the key factor in this game is that the Leafs are without Matthews. I don’t see a lot separating the two teams and if Matthews was playing I would probably take the dog. Because he is out I will lay the small price and take the Capitals. I also think there could be some value on the total with Matthews being out, so I will also play the game under.
NHL Odds: Capitals 3, Maple Leafs 2
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