NHL Picks: Side With Capitals As Home Faves To Crush Panthers

Dana Lane

Tuesday, February 2, 2016 2:25 PM UTC

Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016 2:25 PM UTC

The Florida Panthers travel to face the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center. History has not been kind to Panthers at this location, but will they make it? Don't miss our NHL picks.

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Free NHL Pick: Washington -145
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline


I'm not sure you can put the revenge label on this match-up but Capitals head head, Barry Trotz, had to be impressed by what he saw from the Florida Panthers all-star representatives, Sunday, which led to the Metropolitan divisions elimination in the first round. 


Washington Capitals
The Capitals will be with Alexander Ovechkin, who decided to shovel snow and take the one game automatic suspension rather than join his Eastern Conference teammates. I think his choices are sometimes more of a representation of an upper body injury than lower.  

This is where bettors start jumping on the dog. A big name or two is out of the line-up and people run to the window to take the plus money with a decent team. I've talked about the lack of chances the public will have to bet the Capitals moving forward because the line makers will put a premium on the Capitals, especially at home. With my threshold at -150, I don't see my money backing Washington much the rest of the way. However, this is a spot, because of Ovi's absence to back the best team in the league at a small home price. 

Don't get me wrong, Alex is a great player, but as we saw in Nashville, Egveny Kuznetsov is waiting for his stage. As the season winds down, toughness and the ability to play great defense along with offensive contributions becomes more important than a one deme signal I want to see efficient +/- efforts rather than a team leaning on one or two players to win a Cup. Don't overreact and think you see value with the Panthers. 

Both teams will have their back-ups in net. Phillip Grubauer had been solid in a limited capacity going 5-3-1 in 11 games with an impressive .925 save percentage for Washington. Former Team USA goaltender, Al Montoya, will get the start for Florida. Montoya is 7-2-1 in 12 games. Last time out Montoya allowed four goals in a loss to Edmonton. Al hasn't been challenged, even in victory, as the Panthers play with far less confidence with him in nets. 


Florida Panthers
Right now, I have the Panthers ranked third in my power rankings, but I do expect them to slide back. I think Florida ask far too much of Roberto Luongo, and if he falters, I question their ability to pick up the offensive slack especially when your second leading scorer is almost 44 years old. Perhaps with the emergence of Reilly Smith as of late, they will find some depth, but I can't rely on that yet. 

History has not been kind with the Panthers at the Verizon Center, losing ten straight which is their longest current losing streak against anyone. If the Panthers are to make a move in the conference this would be a great time to start, but I suspect they are more occupied with fending off Tampa and Detroit in the Atlantic. 

The Panthers were impressive at home going into the break, but let's not lose sight of the fact that the Panthers were outscored 12-3 in losing their last three road games. 

There has been much emphasis on Ovechkin, but let's remember that the Caps best defensemen, John Carlson, will be back after a lower body injury. He did play 19 minutes against Philadelphia before the break, but I expect a stronger Carlson after being out a month.


Betting Analysis
From a trend angle, the Panthers have been historically bad playing on the road against the upper echelon teams of the league, led by an 8-22 effort in their last 30 against Washington. The Capitals have won 45 of their last 63 Eastern Conference games including four of their last five against the Panthers. The NHL odds boards show the Caps as the favorites at -150. Take Washington for your NHL picks.

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