Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:45 AM EST.
7:05 PM EST. Regulation only. The Capitals are where they usually are in the standings, that being in first place just after the All-Star break and headed for the playoffs with aspirations of a Stanley Cup. What’s different about this year’s team as opposed to previous editions is that the previous editions were legit while this one is not. The only thing remarkable about the Caps is that they’re 30-15-5, which happens to be the most misleading record in the league by a country mile and here’s why:
PDO rank: 2
Even-strength shooting percentage: 8.9 percent
Even-strength save percentage: .930
Even-strength Corsi for percentage: 48.4 percent
There are red flags everywhere. According to Natural Stat Trick, Washington has been significantly outshot and has given up 499 high-danger shots against, compared to only 382 high-danger shots for. Alex Ovechkin is currently sporting the third highest shooting percentage (14.4) of his career, and his highest since the shortened 2012-13 season. Winger Brett Connolly, who has 13 goals, has scored on an absurd 30.7 percent of his shots. Both are extremely unlikely to continue. We’re always preaching to pay more attention to the ingredients and not the results and we’re not going to allow the Caps’ record to sway us into thinking they’re good when they are not. The numbers strongly suggest an impending disaster around the Capitals and it's a stench that you can't Febreze out of the seats in the arena. The blue line is thinner than it has been in years and one of the worst in the league. The forward group is offensively challenged after the top six. Playing the 28th ranked strength of schedule, Washington’s puck possession and overall analytics are weak. This team has the market completely fooled, just like the Rangers and Islanders did earlier.
Enter the Penguins. There are two things among others that the Penguins love to do and one of them is to beat the Capitals. The other is to win playoff series. ESPN came out with their Power Rankings yesterday and they had the Capitals fifth and the Penguins 14th. Do you see how results influence? Those complete idiots at ESPN look up and down the standings and rank teams based on nothing but results. On Pittsburgh’s worst day, they are vastly superior to the Caps in every way. Alex Ovechkin is great alright, he’s great at losing the biggest games and he’s great at playing second fiddle to Sidney Crosby. Whether it’s International competition or in the Stanley Cup playoffs, OV has NEVER beaten Crosby when the chips were down. This game is not for all the marbles and it is in no way a big game but the Penguins and Caps haven’t met since early November and this is a great opportunity for Pittsburgh to remind these visiting imposters who the boss is. The Penguins weren’t healthy back then when they lost 4-1 but they are now and they’re a juggernaut. Over the past six weeks, Pittsburgh’s offensive and defensive metrics are outstanding. They rank top-6 or better in just about every metric on both sides of center. The Pens have lost twice over their last 10 games with most of those victories being of the dominating variety. The Penguins are the team to beat in the East once again and this is the time of year that they kick it into gear. ESPN should be embarrassed by those ludicrous rankings they put up every week but we’ll let the Penguins explain it here.
Open an account today at Pinnacle Sports and take advantage of their -104 style pricing on sides and totals, which is 60% better than other sportsbooks.
PITTSBURGH -½ +113 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.26)