Bruins at Capitals Picks
By Adam Markowitz
For the second time in two nights, the Washington Capitals will be on national television when they host the Boston Bruins on Thursday night. Washington has started to come alive in the month of December and is looking to keep the momentum it built up before Christmas. The Caps have been one of the best regular season teams in the NHL for the last decade, but have yet to reach even the Eastern Conference Finals. This year they are hoping for things to be different.
Boston Bruins at Washington Capitals
Date and Time: Thursday, December 28, 2017, 7 p.m. ET
Location: Capital One Arena, Washington, DC
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Bruins at Capitals TV Coverage: NBCSN
Boston has won its last four games coming into this one, taking care of business as a favorite all four times. The defense has been great during that stretch, allowing just four goals, and that helped the under to go 3-1 in that time. This is one of the more defensive minded clubs you will find, and the Bruins have seen 19 of their 34 games go under the total.
The Capitals lost their last two games before the break. Washington just couldn’t find much offense out west against Arizona and Las Vegas. However, before that point, the Caps had won eight of nine, including a win over Boston on the road in that stretch. This team hasn’t lost at home since November 30, and is 14-5 on home ice this season.
Boston is hoping its luck will change playing Washington in a new venue. The Bruins have lost both of their home games to the Capitals already this season, getting outscored 8-4.
These two teams met two weeks ago in Beantown, with Washington pouring it on in the third period in order to get the win. Two Alex Chiasson goals, one shorthanded, midway through the period put the Caps up 4-1, and it was all over from that point.
Special teams were extremely important in that meeting. Boston and Washington combined to tally three power play goals on nine chances and Chiasson had the shortie as previously mentioned.
Additionally, what killed Boston was its inability to outscore Washington in the second period despite outshooting the Capitals 13-3. Both teams tallied a goal in that frame and that kept the pressure on Boston.
Braden Holtby has been a Vezina contender for each of the last three seasons, but has not played well so far this year. Holtby is in his late 20s, and the Caps believed that the future was bright for him after posting a career-low 2.07 GAA in 2016-17.
Unfortunately, his numbers have regressed in a big way now that he no longer has some of the first-class defensemen he once did. Holtby has a 2.65 GAA this season and has seen far more shots this year than in the last three seasons.
His save percentage has taken a slight dip, so it’s obvious the main culprit is the defense. However, at the end of the day, it’s Holtby that gets the credit or the blame for how many goals the opponent scores. He has allowed at least two goals in each of his last five outings.
Bruins at Capitals Free Picks
Washington’s success this season is a little curious when you look at certain stats. There is usually a good correlation between shots taken and shots allowed and a team’s success, but the Caps have thrown that out the window. They are getting outshot by an average of three shots a game, yet keep finding ways to win games. Neither of the special teams units have been that good, and still their pucks keep finding their way into the back of the net.
That’s why I’m going to go with the underdog here. Boston is good enough on the defensive end to stop Washington, and the Bruins were a little unlucky the last time these teams met. Back Boston to pull off the upset as a good-sized underdog.
Bruins at Capitals Pick: Grab the Bruins on the moneyline
Bruins at Capitals Score Prediction: Bruins 4 – Capitals 2