It’s a short slate in the NHL on Monday night, with just two games on the schedule. The first will be in the nation’s capital, where the Washington Capitals (15-3-4, first in Metropolitan) will host the Anaheim Ducks (10-9-2, sixth in Pacific). Washington is 8-1-1 in its last 10, playing some of its best hockey all year, while Anaheim snapped its five-game losing streak on Saturday against the defending champion Blues.
Here is a preview for Monday night’s game, along with odds and a pick.
By the Numbers
We’ll start with the Capitals, who average the second-most goals per game with 3.68 and own the league’s best shooting percentage. Even though Washington is just 16th in shots, it has a top-10 power-play unit that scores 23.3 percent of the time.
On defense, Washington is just 16th in goals allowed (3.0) and shots allowed (31.3) but also has the league’s fifth-best penalty kill, successfully killing 85.7 percent of power plays.
The Ducks are once again struggling to score. They are 23rd with 2.71 goals per game, a bit fortunate considering their 30th-ranked power play (9.1 percent) and average number of shots per game (28.6).
Thanks to good goaltending, Anaheim’s goals allowed per game is a respectable 2.81, the ninth-fewest in the league. But it is still an average 18th in penalty-kill percentage (80.3) and ranks 24th with 33 shots allowed per game.
What to Watch
The Capitals are a team built around their stars. Alex Ovechkin is once again having a great season, as the captain has a team-high 14 goals to go along with 10 assists. Evgeny Kuznetsov, who missed the first three games of the season due to a suspension, is third on Washington with 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists). There are also good players like Niklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie other teams have to account for.
But their biggest boost comes from defenseman John Carlson. Carlson leads the team and all defensemen around the league with 32 points, 24 of which come from assists. With Carlson manning the blue line and being the quarterback on the power play, it has given the Capitals a whole new element of their already-strong offense.
While the Caps have multiple standouts to highlight, the Ducks don’t really have any. Jakob Silfverberg is the leader on the team with 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) and is solid defensively as well. Veterans Rickard Rakell, Ryan Getzlaf, and Adam Henrique are all next with 14 points.
Anaheim is a team that, unlike Washington, is built with a lot of first- and second-year players. However, those young players, like Sam Steel, Troy Terry and Max Jones, have yet to really make an impact on the stat sheet. If those players can get going against a team like Washington Monday night, perhaps it can help them carry over some success going forward.
For Anaheim, John Gibson is expected to be in net as usual. The All-Star has had a little bit of a down year by his standards, going 7-9-0 with a 2.83 GAA and .915 save percentage.
Washington will counter with its normal starter, Braden Holtby, as well. Holtby owns a sparkling 10-1-3 record, not losing in regulation in his past 10 starts, but also carries a 2.97 GAA and .904 save percentage.
Odds and Pick
It’s no surprise that the Capitals are big favorites Monday night, listed at -220. I would be more intrigued by the Ducks if their top defenders, Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson, were healthy, but both are still out dealing with injuries. Without them, expect the Capitals’ dynamic offense to beat Gibson and for Washington to also shut down Anaheim’s inconsistent offense. Give me the Capitals -220 Monday night.