NHL Picks: Bet Profitable Capitals -214 vs. Canadiens

Jason Lake

Tuesday, February 23, 2016 8:59 PM UTC

Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016 8:59 PM UTC

Everything's gone to heck in a handbasket for the Montreal Canadiens. They're on the wrong side of the NHL odds for Wednesday's game against the Washington Capitals.

Jason's 2015-16 record as of Feb. 23: 1-1 ATS (–0.85 units), 1-6 ML (–5.12 units), 0-1-2 Totals (–1.00 units)

Four months ago, the Montreal Canadiens were undefeated at 9-0. Three months ago, the Habs were still the top team in the NHL at 17-4-2. Then Carey Price got hurt. You probably know the rest; Montreal has completely unraveled, falling into sixth place in the Atlantic Division at 28-27-5. The Canadiens can still rally and make the playoffs, but that seems highly unlikely at this point.

While Montreal's season has gone down the drain, the Washington Capitals (44-10-4) have taken over as the best team in the league – by a fairly wide margin, too. The Capitals will host the Habs Wednesday night (7:00 p.m. ET, TSN) in a game that could get ugly for the visitors; Washington is a –230 chalk on the NHL odds boards as we go to press. Too much chalk? Not if we're doing the math right.


H-R Pufnstuf
As (almost) always, we turn to the stat nerds at Hockey-Reference to help us establish a baseline for our NHL picks. It's amazing what you can get for free these days. H-R has Washington way ahead of the pack at +1.01 on the Simple Rating System – that's one goal per game better than the average team. My goodness. Montreal (–0.06 SRS) has slipped below average on the season; mash them together, give the home side an extra 0.30 goals, and let's see... Washington –237 looks about right.

But that's based on the entire season up to this point. The Canadiens are a much lesser team without Price (.934 save percentage) in net; Wednesday's projected starter, rookie Mike Condon (.904 SV%), has had a pretty rough time overall this year. And it isn't helping Condon's cause that so many of his teammates are injured, too. Seven other Habs are on the shelf, including three of their top six defensemen.


Cap Guns
The Capitals are healthy and hale by comparison, and hot as a pistol with nine wins in their last 10 games. No. 1 netminder Braden Holtby (.924 SV%) is considered probable to start Wednesday's game, although back-up Philipp Grubauer (.925 SV%) has done just about as well in relief. The Caps also lead the league in scoring at 3.29 goals per game. It's a tough combination to beat.

Our only real decision here at the ranch is whether to bet the moneyline or the puck line. We're going with the former this time; even though Washington (27-31 ATS, +14.98 betting units) is the most profitable team in the NHL against the puck line, Montreal is still playing things close to the vest defensively, allowing just 28.0 shots on goal per game (No. 5 overall). Another one-goal loss for the Habs could be in the cards.

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NHL Pick: Washington -214
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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