Free NHL Picks: Bet The Capitals Over Wild Card Penguins For Tuesday's Card

Dana Lane

Tuesday, March 1, 2016 7:49 PM GMT

The Capitals are sitting on top of the Eastern Conference looking down at the Penguins who are in the last wild card spot. Here's a preview on my NHL pick. 

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals
The Washington Capitals made very few moves over the deadline and why should they? The Caps have dominated the Eastern Conference owning a firm lead on the Metropolitan Division and the Presidents Trophy race.The Caps are well balanced with four solid lines and eight reliable defensemen so it's not a surprise they weren't aggressive at the trade deadline. 

Pittsburgh didn't make any major moves either which is exactly what I would have expected. Pittsburgh is ready for a playoff run with the only justifiable moves could be minor league depth. This is a bit of a revenge spot for the Caps who suffered one of their rare home losses to the Penguins this year. In fact, Pittsburgh has lost twice in a row at home to Pittsburgh. This is also a potential first round match-up and I'm sure the Caps will have a little extra incentive to send a message. 

The Capitals are facing as much adversity as they have all season losing two of their last three games. Alexander Ovechkin should be additionally motivated considering he hasn't recorded a point in either meeting with Pittsburgh this year. Braden Holtby should be in goal for the Caps. Holtby has a 1.35 goals against average with two shutouts in his last six games against Pittsburgh. It's still not clear if Marc-Andre Fleury will get the start for Pittsburgh or Jeff Zatkoff, if Zatkoff plays. Remember he is only 1-2 with an alarming 3.22 goals against average along with a poor .892 save percentage. He has always given up too many rebounds. We won't have a definitive answer on their goaltending plans until morning skate. Meanwhile check the NHL odds boards on the best sportsbooks available for this game. 

 

Betting Analysis
The Penguins power play, which was ranked as high as 6th at one point, has not found the back of the net in 15 straight chances. Mike Johnston has tried different power play combinations to get them going. He broke up the Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang combination up sliding Malkin to play with Blake Comeau, Paul Martin, and Simon Despres. Derrick Pouliot and David Perron are now playing with Crosby and Kunitz. Crosby has failed to record a point in three of his last four games. 

The Penguins have been drawing fewer penalties averaging only 2.1 power plays per game in their last seven games compared to 3.2 season average. Pittsburgh has a long list of guys who are out or not at full strength which is why, excluding the Coyotes game, the Penguins came out a little flat seemingly going through the motions. The Pens have been fantastic against everyone except inside their own division. In their last 52 games inside the Metropolitan Division the Penguins are just 17-35. 

Washington is 12-4-1 in their last 17 games and have not lost consecutive regulations games this season and have won 47 of their last 65 home games. Until someone can consistently beat the Caps at home, Washington will always be my NHL pick. @DanaLaneSports 

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NHL Pick: Washington
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline