Free NHL Picks for Penguins vs. Capitals

Ross Benjamin

Monday, March 10, 2014 3:34 PM GMT

The Capitals host the Penguins on Monday at the Verizon Center in Washington DC with the opening face-off slated for 7:05 PM ET. The game will be televised by the NHL Network. The NHL odds are out; where does our handicapper believe the best value lies?

According to NHL betting odds the Penguins are a -130 money line road favorite and the posted total is 5.5. Pittsburgh has won the last 6 meetings between these Metropolitan Division rivals. These clubs have seen 5 of their last 6 meetings in Washington go under the total. Following tonight’s game these division rivals will square off again tomorrow night in Pittsburgh. The Penguins currently have a comfortable 14-point lead atop the Metropolitan Division, and are 2nd overall in the Eastern Conference just 1-point behind the Boston Bruins. Washington is 5th in the Metropolitan, and 10th overall in the Eastern Conference. Washington trails both Detroit and Columbus by just 1-point for the 8th and final playoff position in the East.

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Very Special Teams

When evaluating the Penguins successful season to this point, there are several key contributing factors that have attributed to their stellar record. The most apparent of which being the plethora of offensively skilled players head by the NHL leading scorer Sidney Crosby, the stellar goaltending by Marc-Andre Fleury, and a top notch coaching staff headed by Dan Bylsma. However what’s more often than not overlooked is the Penguins special teams play. They’re #1 in the NHL on both the power play (25.5%) and in penalty killing (87.2%).

Battling for the Top Spot in the East

The Penguins had held the top spot in the Eastern Conference for the better part of the season. That all changed after Boston’s win at Florida yesterday which enabled the Bruins to overtake the Penguins by 1-point in the standings. The good news for the Penguins is they’ve played 1 fewer game than Boston, and they will play 12 of their remaining 19 regular season games on home ice.

Fighting for their Playoff Lives

The Washington Capitals might as well consider their final 17 regular season games as an early prelude to the playoffs, and what they hope to be and eventual berth in the postseason. Their first obstacle ahead of them is the home and home series versus a Pittsburgh team that they’ve lost to 6 consecutive times. On a positive note the Capitals were able to snap a 3-game losing streak by defeating Phoenix 3-2 at home on Saturday. The game marked the Capitals debut of newly acquired goaltender Jaroslav Halak. Halak was superb in the win stopping 31 of 33 Phoenix shots on goal. Counting his time spent with the St. Louis Blues this season, Halak has gone a stellar 25-13 versus the money line this season while posting a stellar 2.00 GAA. The Capitals have gone under the total in 7 of their last 10 at home, but have gone over the total in 9 of their last 13 overall.

NHL Stanley Cup Betting Futures

Final Analysis

Although the Capitals haven’t had any success in the recent past versus the Penguins, they may me catching them at the right time. This will be Pittsburgh’s 5th consecutive road game all within the last 10-days. The Capitals have a renewed confidence with what they consider to be a top 10 goaltender in Jaroslav Halak. They will also receive a huge energy boost from their always enthusiastic home crowd. I have a small lean toward the home underdog for my hockey picks in this spot.

NHL Pick: Washington +110 over Pittsburgh