Arch rivals that cannot stand each other are going to duke it out on the NHL odds on Tuesday night in the Steel City, where the Washington Capitals will hope to spoil the winning streak of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The inconsistencies that the Capitals show in a game in, game out basis are mind boggling. We know that this is a team that has all of the talent in the world and could be one of the best in the league if it wants to. After all, this club really isn’t all that different from the teams of three years ago and beyond that were dominating in the Southeast Division and in the Eastern Conference. A 5-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres from Sunday was awesome, but for as great as that game was, a thorough 4-1 beating the night before against the Boston Bruins was devastating. Part of the problem has come in net. Both G Braden Holtby and G Michal Neuvirth have been lousy all year. Both have very similar core numbers, as Holtby has a 2.97 GAA and a .908 save percentage, while Neuvirth has a 2.99 GAA and a .899 save percentage. Yet it has been Holtby in net for the most part this year due to the fact that he has 10 of the 12 wins for the club.
It just doesn’t get any hotter than Pittsburgh has been over the course of the last several games. The defense is really playing well, holding teams to just five goals in its last five games, and the offense is doing even better, putting up an average of 4.11 goals per game in its last nine, all of which have been victories. The offensive numbers remain the truly mind bending part of this team this year. LW Chris Kunitz already has 40 points in 30 games, and he is well on his way to putting up 25 goals in this shortened season. LW James Neal is right behind him with 17 goals, while RW Pascal Dupuis has lit the lamp 14 times. And then of course, there’s C Sidney Crosby. It’s great to see Sid the Kid back on the ice and playing without the effects of concussions, which have kept him sidelined for huge chunks of the last three seasons. Crosby already has 100 shots on goal, 13 goals, and 35 assists, and he is a whopping +21 in the +/- category. There is no doubt that this is the MVP of the league right now, and if he stays healthy, he’ll lead the league in total points and will capture the Hart Memorial Trophy.
That’s why we really feel like we have no choice but to back the Penguins while they’re hot. It’s going to cost us a lot of chalk, but if you’re a winner, no one asks you how much cheese you laid. Go with the Pens on Tuesday night to run their winning streak to 10 games.
Washington Capitals @ Pittsburgh Penguins Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins