Two of the contending teams in the Eastern Conference lock horns in the Garden State on Friday night, where the Washington Capitals will pay a visit to the New Jersey Devils.
Though Washington has played two fewer games than the Tampa Bay Lightning, the two squads have the same point total with 18, and it is clear that the Caps have the stronger of the two teams at this moment. They have scored 50 goals, the second most in the NHL this year and just behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the most goals per game in the league, and they just have star power that most teams cannot compete with. Nicklas Backstrom already has a whopping 19 points on the campaign, and Alexander Ovechkin, always a threat for a 100+ point season, has six goals and seven assists. Six players have five or more assists and six have four or more goals. To put that in perspective, the 29 goals that the top six goal scorers on this team have accounted for are more than the entire New York Islanders team has all season long to date. There is a flaw in this team though, and it is in its road form at just 3-3-0. There haven’t been a ton of tests as visitors this year for Washington, and it definitely could be in a tad bit of trouble in this one if the Devils bring their ‘A’ game.
Are the Devils finally playoff material once again this year? At least for right now they aren’t, but just like with Washington, they have a couple games in hand in which they can do some real damage. This is a big stretch of games coming up though, as the next five are against the Caps twice, the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, and Tampa Bay Lightning. This is the only one of the games that will be played at home, and after this one, 10 of the next 12 are on the road. It’s early in the season to be saying that this is a make or break stretch, but if the team only yields say, six or seven points from these 13 games, as the club found out last year, it may have built itself a hole that is just too deep to get out of when push comes to shove. But for now, we’ll look at the positives. A three game losing streak with no points to show for it was ended last Thursday with a 4-3 shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers on the road, a win that sparked a three game winning streak. The Devils haven’t won a game at home by more than a goal since October 10th though, one of just two multi-goal victories of the entire season by multiple goals.
Washington Capitals @ New Jersey Devils Pick: In the end, we know the importance of this game for these two teams. The Caps really need some mojo on the road, but the Devils need to snare as many points as they can from this horrendous schedule ahead. Back the hosts, particularly as the short underdogs that they will likely be.
NHL Pick: New Jersey Devils
Andrew Ryan has been in the sportswriting biz since the late-90s, and he has worked side by side with some of the best and brightest in sports gambling. Always searching for the best trends in sports, Andrew uses his brilliant math mind to his advantage to beat the books.
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