On Tuesday the Metropolitan Division features two teams right in the thick of things for the post-season as the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Washington Capitals.
Ice time is set for 7:00 pm ET tonight at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. According to the NHL odds, the Penguins are a -146 betting favorite and the total for the game is listed at 5.5 goals.
I always recommend that you search google with the keywords "NHL Starting Goalies" as sometimes the #1 goalie for each respective team has a night off. As of now, goalie statuses are unconfirmed, therefore we'll have to assume that Braden Holtby is in net for the Caps and Marc Andre- Fluery will be between the pipes for the Pens.
Holtby has been spectacular this season with a record of 26-12-9 with a GAA of 2.20. Holtby has played Pittsburgh twice this season and hasn't allowed a single goal.
Lastly, it doesn't matter to Holtby if he's at home or on the road as he sports a 14-7-5 mark with a 2.31 GAA. Washington, who is 6-3-1 in their last 10 games, have to feel confident about their defense tonight. They rank 8th in the league in goals against (2.5) and have a goalie that has owned Pittsburgh.
As for Pittsburgh, they're coming off of a 2-1 shootout loss to Chicago, but they have one of the best netminders in the game in Marc-Andre Fluery.
Despite the OT loss, Fluery has been hot as of late, allowing just 2 goals in his last 4 games. He has swept aside 97 of opponents' last 99 shots on goal and has a 26-11-6 mark with a 2.19 GAA this season. Due to the fact that Holtby has played so well against Pittsburgh, the goalie matchup is a wash and both goalies will need to be at their best as both teams contain some lethal offensive threats.
When you have a player this good, you call him by his last name as he's been one of the main faces in hockey for the past several seasons. Alex Ovechkin currently has 36 goals on the season and is on pace for another 50 plus goal season.
Of course this is nothing new for a player that has had over 50 goals per season on 5 separate occasions. Ovechkin is a flatout beast that's coming off of 2 goal 2 assist performance against the Anaheim Ducks. In his last 8 games (the month of February) Ovechkin has 7 goals and 5 assists and in the two meetings against Pittsburgh this season, Ovechkin had 2 goals.
This is cause for concern for the Penguins as the Capitals also feature their leading scorer, Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom leads the Caps in assists with 43 and is the perfect complimentary player to Ovechkin as he set up Ovechkin on both goals in Washington's last game. Obviously, we have to expect more of the same as these are two world class hockey players.
"Sid the Kid"
He's not a kid anymore as Sidney Crosby has tallied 827 points in his sure fire hall of fame career. That said, due to injuries, Crosby hasn't fully lived up to expectations from the time he was a rookie as people compared him to Gretzky and Lemieux.
Crosby has been more of a set up man than goal scorer as he's had just 1- 50 goal season and this season, we're seeing more of the same as Crosby leads the Penguins with 19 goals and 39 assists. This is a player that will put a tremendous amount of pressure on the defense and I expect more of the same in this game.
Crosby recently had a 2 goal game against Ottawa on Valentine's Day in 5-4 shootout win. Expect Crosby to be a factor in this game as there are 2 important points up for grab.
Washington has had Pittsburgh's number this season with outstanding goaltending and a player such as Ovechkin that's simply the best. Take the Caps as the underdog for your NHL picks.
NHL Pick: Washington +130 at 5Dimes