There are definitely worse ways to get the week started off as my only pick from last night’s NHL action ended in a push. The Vancouver Canucks, behind the strength of Eddie Lack, managed to knock off the Blues by a 4-1 count, sweeping the season series between the two clubs in the process. Not many teams can say that they have St. Louis’ number, especially in recent seasons, however the Canucks played a heck of a game and the only thing they did wrong was score too many goals. Of course, that is selfish on my part but there is no argument to be made against a push as the 5-goal total sets itself up for a great deal of these throughout the season. Seven games occupy tonight’s NHL schedule so let’s dive in and see if we can net a winner this evening.
Carolina Hurricanes @ Washington Capitals
My Pick – CAPITALS -1.5 (+155)
Current Metropolitan and former Southeast Division foes will collide tonight in D.C. as the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals will do battle for the fourth and final time this season. Washington took the first two three meetings this season, both by a single goal before the Hurricanes most recently shut out the Capitals by a 3-0 count on February the 27th. Washington sits comfortably in a playoff spot right now and played one of their best games of the year on Sunday night as they knocked off the East-leading New York Rangers by an impressive 5-2 margin. The win was a statement from the Caps that they will be a force to be reckoned with come the postseason and much of that is due to their unique scoring abilities on offense. Alex Ovechkin pumped home his league-leading 49th goal of the season against the Rangers and will surely crack the 50-goal plateau for the sixth time in his career sooner than later. Ovechkin leads the NHL with 22 powerplay tallies for a Washington team that operates the man-advantage at a league-high 24.4% clip. Yes, Ovechkin is the face of the franchise and has been since he arrived in the league in the 2005/2006 season, however his explosive totals would not be as possible if his running mate Nicklas Backstrom was not at his disposal. Backstrom has 55 assists on the season and has a league-high 28 powerplay helpers, a good chunk of which are slick passes that few others in the league can replicate. The Capitals will be able to outscore a Hurricanes team that averages just 2.27 goals per game this season and who’s leading scorer Eric Staal has just 49 points on the year, the same number of goals that Ovechkin has totalled. The Capitals are an impressive 21-12-5 on home ice this season and a rock-solid 16-8-4 in games within their division while the Hurricanes have won just 11 games away from Raleigh so far this year. It will be tough for Carolina to stop such a high-octane offense despite their solid defensive numbers as the Caps are rolling right now, going 5-2-0 over their last seven contests. Divisional games are always tough, however if they can roll over the red-hot Rangers by a 5-2 score, there is nothing that tells me they can’t do something similar to the Hurricanes tonight. Take the Capitals to win this one by at least two goals.