Stars Streak Ends in Nations Capital, Make Washington the NHL Pick

David Lawrence

Thursday, November 19, 2015 12:37 PM GMT

Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015 12:37 PM GMT

The Dallas Stars have recorded three straight wins to create some separation at the top of the Western Conference standings. Can they stay hot? Check our NHL pick here.

Momentum
Dallas has won three straight and six of its last seven games to move five points up on the Nashville Predators for top spot in the Central division and Western Conference standings so they should have plenty of momentum and confidence heading in to this matchup.

Meanwhile, the Capitals had dropped two of their last three heading into their Wednesday night matchup against the Detroit Red Wings but rebounded with a 2-1 win. They will be back on the ice in Washington less than 24 hours. The Capitals own an impressive 6-2-1 record on home ice this season but the Stars are 8-2-0 on the road so something will have to give when these teams clash.

 

Projected Starting Goalies
Washington has leaned heavily on No. 1 goaltender Braden Holtby this season and for good reason since he had a 9-4-0 record with a 2.01 goals against average and .919 save percentage heading in to Tuesday night. However, the Capitals have not indicated whether they will start Holtby on back-to-back nights or turn to backup netminder Philipp Grubauer, who is 2-0-1 with a 2.59 GAA and .899 save percentage and is obviously not as strong of an option in between the pipes.

At the other side of the ice, there is a good chance that the Stars will continue to lean on the hot hand the way that they have all season with Antti Niemi likely to get the start in goal. Niemi turned away 24 of the 25 shots he faced in his first start in a week for a 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday so Dallas is likely to turn back to him on Thursday against the Capitals.

 

Outlook
The Stars lead the NHL in goals per game with an average of 3.6 per contest thanks in big part to the duo of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, who have combined for 22 goals and 31 assists through 19 games. Dallas has received strong contributions from Patrick Sharp and Jason Spezza as well though, so Washington will have its hands full trying to keep their attack in check. Meanwhile, the Capitals won’t fear getting outscored in any game as long as Alex Ovechkin is healthy and in the lineup. Ovechkin has led the league’s fifth-ranked offense with a team-high eight goals on a ridiculous 82 shots on goal already. Washington also has gotten some quality secondary scoring across the board with T.J. Oshie, Evgeni Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson all stepping up. That’s part of why they’ve been one of the best bets on the NHL odds.

In addition to their high-scoring attack, the Capitals have also done an excellent job of keeping opposing teams off the score sheet with an average of just 2.3 goals allowed per game – the seventh-best mark in the NHL. Washington has played a much more complete game since Barry Trotz arrived as head coach and while they might be a little tired after playing the Red Wings the night before, it is still too early to think fatigue will be a major issue. Look for the Capitals to keep the Dallas offense in check while Ovechkin looks to run wild once again in front of a packed house at home in Washington. Take the Capitals with your NHL picks.

NHL Pick: Capitals +125 at TheGreek

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