Sunday’s two game NHL slate features two marquee matchups, so let’s dive right in.
The rivalry between the Capitals and the Penguins has been one of the better parts of the NHL over the last 15-plus years. Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin will always be compared as the two faces of hockey for this generation. They’ve competed for awards and scoring titles. They’ve played each other in multiple playoff series. They’ve both won Championships.
Anytime these teams get together, especially with both those players healthy, it’s special.
However, it’s been a rocky start to the campaign for both teams this season.
The Capitals have not played in a week as they had games against the Flyers and Sabres postponed due to those teams facing Covid-issues. Prior to their break in the schedule, the Capitals had lost three straight games.
On the bright side, Washington should be near full health for the first time in a while in this game. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jakub Vrana and Ilya Samsonov were removed from the Covid list. TJ Oshie, Lars Eller and Justin Schultz should return from injury.
The Capitals are an extremely talented team, and for the first time since the opening week of the season, their line-up should be near full strength.
Pittsburgh has won just one of their first 12 games in regulation time. Sure, they’ve ended up winning five more games in overtime, but the first tiebreaker in the standings is regulation wins. It’s nice to see the Penguins competitive in almost every game they play, but they need to start winning games without the benefit of overtime and shootouts.
Both of these teams enter this game in the bottom five of the league in terms of goals against per game. Washington and Pittsburgh are both giving up over 3.5 goals per game.
In fact, only once in their first 12 games has Pittsburgh’s opponent scored less than three goals.
With talent like Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Backstrom, Oshie, Vrana, Carlson, and Wilson on the Caps, I don’t expect that to change on Sunday. However, Pittsburgh has plenty of talent on their own roster, and the Caps aren’t great defensively either.
I think we see a high-scoring game between two solid, but flawed teams.
Bet: Over 6.5 Goals @ -110
Coming into the season, most people had the Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights both on their shortlists of teams who can compete for the Stanley Cup. Through the first quarter of the season, nothing either team has done should change that stance.
The Colorado Avalanche haven’t played a game since February 2nd due to Covid-issues with the Minnesota Wild and then an outbreak within their own locker room. The team was forced to shut down their facility for most of this time. Gabriel Landeskog, Tyson Jost and Samuel Girard will not play on Sunday due to Covid.
While the outbreak obviously was unfortunate, it did allow time for Nathan MacKinnon and Devon Toews to return from injury. Both players will be in the line-up on Sunday. Silver linings can be found in every situation.
While the Avalanche might be rusty and have had a lot of time off, the opposite applies to Vegas.
The Golden Knights played on Saturday afternoon where they defeated the San Jose Sharks. They have a quick turnaround to play the Avs on Sunday.
Usually, this wouldn’t be too big of an issue as Vegas has a tremendous 1-2 goaltending tandem with Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury. Unfortunately, Lehner has come down with an injury and will most likely not be available for this game. This means Fleury will either need to start for the second time in two days, or Vegas will have to turn to third string goalie Oscar Dansk.
Either situation is far from ideal against the dynamic offense of the Avs. Colorado is scoring nearly 3.5 goals per game, ranking 6th best in the league.
While the Golden Knights might be better than the Avalanche in terms of puck possession and shot generation, the Avalanche have more talent on their roster which leads to higher effectiveness. Colorado has scored more goals than Vegas per game while giving up less goals against.
Both of these teams are very good, but I think Colorado has more talent up and down their lineup. I like the rested team as an underdog in this spot.
Bet: Colorado ML @ +109
Get the latest free bets and promotions HERE
Expert NHL Picks
Capitals/Penguins Over 6.5 Goals @ -110 (Click to bet)
Colorado ML @ +109 (Click to bet)
Daily NHL Picks
Every day we'll be giving you the very best free NHL picks on the planet. Whether you're a fan of the Penguins, Islanders or Maple Leafs, you'll love reading this picks as we aim to win some money togther.
Our expert handicapper Pete Truszkowski is a die-hard Islanders fan but doesn't let it bias him. He was born and raised on Long Island and he's been betting on hockey for a decade. Don't miss out on his picks.