Saturday NHL Picks: Capitals vs. Maple Leafs

Ross Benjamin

Saturday, November 23, 2013 3:45 PM GMT

Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013 3:45 PM GMT

The Maple Leafs host the Capitals at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Saturday.The NHL odds are out; who have we decided to place our money on?

According to NHL betting odds Toronto is a -140 money line home favorite and the posted total is 5.5. These two clubs have seen 7 of the last 10 meetings played in Toronto go under the total. The home team has won 5 of the last 7 meetings in this series.

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Special Teams Breakdown

Both of these teams have been very dangerous on the power play this season. The Leafs enter tonight 4th in the NHL converting on 23.6% of their chances. The Capitals are 2nd at a robust 24.2%. In addition both of these clubs are amongst the most heavily penalized in the NHL. The Leafs have accumulated 371 minutes which ranks 2nd in the league, while the Capitals are 4th with 325. The Capitals penalty killing has been very good as well. They’ve killed off 85.9% of the opposition’s power play opportunities. The Leafs have been average while shorthanded ranking 16th at 82.4%.

I give the overall edge in special teams to the Capitals in this evening’s contest.

Goaltending

Michal Neuvirth was in goal for Washington in last night’s 3-2 home loss to the Montreal Canadians. In all likelihood it will be the Capitals #1 goalie Braden Holtby between the pipes tonight versus the Leafs. In 17 starts this season Holtby has posted a 2.70 GAA and a .923 save percentage while posting 1 shutout. In his last 3 starts Holtby has been peppered with a combined 124 shots on goal. He was able to turn away 116 of those 124 shots for a stellar .935 save percentage.

The Leafs tandem of Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer has been terrific this season. Especially when you consider the fact that the Leafs are allowing an average of 35.5 shots on goal per game which ranks 28th in the NHL. In 15 starts Bernier has posted a solid 2.19 GAA and a very good .934 save percentage while also recording 1 shutout. James Reimer has been outstanding in the backup role. In 7 starts Reimer has a 2.27 GAA, an excellent .942 save percentage, and 1 shutout.

I give a huge edge to Toronto in this category.

Inside the Leafs Numbers

  • The Leafs are 17-35 in their last 52-games versus an opponent with a winning record.
  • The Leafs have won 5 of their last 6 home games.
  • The Leafs are 16-5 in their last 21 home games versus an opponent with a losing record on the road.
  • The Leafs have gone under the total in 7 of their last 8-games, versus an opponent who scored 2-goals or less in their previous game.
  • The Leafs have scored 2-goals or less in 6 of their last 8-games.
  • This will be the Leafs 4th of a 5-game home stand. They’ve gone over the total in their first 3-games of the home stand which concludes on Monday versus the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Inside the Capitals Numbers

  • The Capitals are 6-2 in their last 8-games when playing their 3rd game in 4 days.
  • The Capitals are 3-13 in their last 16 road games versus an opponent with a home winning percentage of better than .600.
  • The Capitals are 3-9 in their last 12-games versus an opponent with a winning record.
  • The Capitals have gone under the total in 5 of their last 6-games versus an opponent with a winning record.
  • The Capitals have gone over the total just 18 of their last 69-games versus Atlantic Division opponents.
  • The Capitals have gone under the total in their last 3-games.

Final Analysis

Although the Capitals have had recent success when playing their 3rd game in 4-days, this environment will be a whole different animal. They will be facing an opponent that’s very good on home ice this season, and has a decided edge in the goaltending department. An intangible factor will be the home team knows they will be playing to a huge viewing audience on the “Hockey Night in Canada” telecast broadcast by CBC. My lean for my NHL picks is toward the hometown Maple Leafs.

NHL Pick: Toronto -140 over Washington

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