The NHL All-Star break is over and coming out of it, MyBookie favors a Washington Capitals-Colorado Avalanche Stanley Cup Final as the Caps are +425 favorites to win the East and the Avs +425 leaders in the West – although there are other teams right there too. Here’s a look at two intriguing Wednesday matchups around the league. Check back for NHL odds.
Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week – January 27th Edition
Nashville at Washington
- When: Wednesday, 7:30 PM ET (NBC Sports Network)
Washington will get back superstar Alex Ovechkin for this game. The Caps played Monday but Ovechkin was suspended for that one because he opted to skip the All-Star Game despite being healthy. Ovi did the same last season. He prefers to keep his body as fresh as possible. He could have taken the suspension right before the break but opted to play at the Islanders.
Probably a good thing he did as Ovechkin recorded his second straight hat trick in the game. Ovechkin now has eight goals in his last three games alone. That’s propelled him to 34 goals and 50 points in 49 games. He’s up to 692 career goals, which pushed him past Mario Lemieux (690 goals) in the all-time list. Ovechkin is now tied for ninth place with Steve Yzerman. Ovechkin has reached the 30-goal mark in each of his first 15 seasons.
Meanwhile, Washington’s John Carlson is the clear-cut favorite for the Norris Trophy as top defenseman coming out of the break. Carlson is running away with the blueliner scoring race this season with 13 goals and 60 points in 49 contests. The next best defenseman offensively is Roman Josi, who has 48 points.Josi is not far off the scoring pace needed to set a Predators record for a single season. Josi is on pace for 84 points. That leaves him only one behind Paul Kariya’s single-season Nashville scoring record of 85 points set in 2005-06.
The Preds go for the season sweep of the Caps as Nashville won 6-5 at home on Oct. 10. Washington led 4-2 entering the third, but Mattias Ekholm scored with 4:40 remaining to cap a wild period. Ryan Johansen scored twice and Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene and Nick Bonino added goals for Nashville. Alex Ovechkin scored a pair of power-play goals and Lars Eller, Tom Wilson and T.J. Oshie also scored for Washington. John Carlson had three assists for the Capitals. Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne improved to 6-1-0 in his career against Washington.
Tampa Bay at Los Angeles
- When: Wednesday, 10:30 PM ET (NBC Sports Network)
This writer believes the Tampa Bay Lightning will win the Stanley Cup; they were heavily favored to entering last year’s playoffs after tying an NHL record with 62 regular-season wins, but the Bolts were shockingly swept in the first round of the playoffs by No. 8 Columbus. The Bolts were just OK the first six weeks of so of this season but have really turned it on of late.
Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy is red hot, coming out of the break having won 10 consecutive starts, improving to 24-9-2 with a 2.54 goals-against average and .917 save percentage, and he hasn’t lost in regulation in 12 appearances dating back to Dec. 14 against the Washington Capitals.
Los Angeles was terrible last season and isn’t any better this year as it has the fewest points in the Western Conference. This franchise has really fallen hard and fast. Expect the Kings to be sellers ahead of the trade deadline. About the only untouchable is Drew Doughty.
The Kings will at least get some help on the blueline with Joakim Ryan retuning out of the break. Ryan has a goal and three points in 27 games this season. He hasn’t been in the lineup since Dec. 27th due to an undisclosed injury.
The Lightning hosted the Kings on Jan. 14 and won 4-3 in a shootout. Reigning NHL MVP and scoring champion Nikita Kucherov scored with a little over a minute left in regulation and Steven Stamkos delivered the game-deciding goal in a shootout. Brayden Point also beat Kings goalie Jonathan Quick in the shootout. Stamkos and Alex Killorn also scored in regulation for the Lightning, who overcame deficits of 2-0 and 3-2. Quick stopped 35 of 38 shots for Los Angeles, which took a 3-2 lead when Dustin Brown scored on the power play at 12:00 of the third.
The Kings have lost seven straight to the Lightning with Tampa Bay looking to sweep the two-game season series for the fourth year in a row.
Expert NHL Betting Picks
Back Capitals and Lightning.