(22-12-5, 49 Points)
(25-11-3, 53 Points)
In what has become an annual tradition, NHL betting action goes outside of the rink and heads into the open air on New Year’s Day in one of the best spectacles the sport has to offer. This year though, the stakes are amplified, as two of the league’s most bitter rivals with the biggest stars will be on display at Heinz Field, as the Pittsburgh Penguins collide with the Washington Capitals.
The Capitals enter this one trying to erase the bitter taste in their mouths from a 3-2 shootout loss at home against the Pens just a few days before Christmas. Washington enters this game in second place in the Southeast Division, though it is level on points with the Tampa Bay Lightning. When you’re talking about hockey in our nation’s capitol, the discussion has to start with the great Alexander Ovechkin, though. Ovie has been down just a bit of late, but he has his scoring touch back, lighting the lamp once in each of his last two games. The Russian leader of this squad has 14 goals and a team high 28 assists to pace the squad with 42 points. He wouldn’t be anywhere without Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin, his line mates, though. These two have combined for 29 goals and 42 assists. These three make up one of the most lethal lines in hockey, and the Penguins are certainly going to have to make sure that they don’t get caught up with these guys in bad shifts too often.
Then there are the superstars of the Penguins, who are every bit as lethal, if not more so than those of the Caps. Sidney Crosby might as well already be handed the Hart Trophy right now, as he is clearly the MVP in the league this year. Sid the Kid has 32 goals to lead the league by a country mile, and his 33 assists is amongst the best that the NHL has to offer as well. Obviously, at 65 points, no one is catching Crosby this year as long as he stays healthy for the majority of the campaign. His 25 straight games with a point finally came to a close in a 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders in Pittsburgh’s last game, which had to be disheartening coming into the biggest game of the season at Heinz Field. Still, the Penguins have the best record in hockey, and they are well on their way to a high seed in the playoffs once again. They have a very realistic chance of getting back the Stanley Cup after missing out on the Finals last year in a disappointing postseason.
The weather conditions in this one aren’t going to be ideal, which might make it all the more fun to watch on TV. This is the hottest ticket in town, and that probably includes the fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers are about to have a home playoff game in all likelihood in the NFL playoffs. Still, Washington is really going to want a measure of revenge for that loss down in DC two weeks ago, and nothing would do that like an upset to spoil the party in the Steel City.
Winter Classic Free Pick: Washington Capitals