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NHL handicapper Jason Yamaguchi provides his best bet for Wednesday's matchup between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Washington Capitals.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Washington Capitals Prediction: Value on the Lightning

Wednesday's NHL slate only contains five games, but a few of them are intriguing for betting purposes. One of them, a matchup between the Lightning and the Capitals, features two of the playoff teams in the Eastern Conference. Tampa Bay is slightly favored, but I believe that they should be favored by more. Here's why.

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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Washington Capitals Prediction

Tampa Bay will be looking to rebound following a disappointing 6-2 loss to Toronto on Monday. They are currently tied for third place in the Atlantic Division with the Bruins, so every point is going to matter down the stretch. The Lightning (43-19-7) have lost two straight, which is likely why their price is a bit deflated for this game. Before those two, however, they had won four straight. In terms of underlying analytics, they have been trending in the right direction since mid-March.

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The Capitals (37-22-10) are on a bit of a skid, having lost four of their last six. Three of the four losses were by three or more goals, including a 5-1 loss to the Wild on Sunday. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that Washington's tumble isn't a result of variance, such as their poor expected goals results since the beginning of March. The good news for them is that they have a playoff spot all but locked up, given that the ninth-place Islanders are 11 points behind them. Still, it won't suit them well to enter the playoffs in poor form, especially if they have to play the East-leading Panthers in the first round.

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Over the course of the entire season, the Lightning have been the better team at even strength. They rank 10th in the NHL with a 5v5 expected goals share of 52.53%, while the Capitals trail in 15th with a share of 50.02%. In other words, the Lightning tend to generate more offense than their opponents at even strength; the Capitals, on the other hand, tread water.

If Andrei Vasilevskiy starts, Tampa will have a major edge in goal. Vasilevskiy, a three-time Vezina finalist, ranks third in the league with 23.4 goals saved above expected this season. Ilya Samsonov is the likely starter for Washington—he hasn't had the best year, allowing 8.4 more goals than expected to this point. One team has reliable goaltending, while the other doesn't.

Some might point to the fact that this game is in Washington to defend the current pricing, but that isn't a viable argument. The Capitals are a mediocre 16-15-5 at home this season, and the Lightning are 22-12-2 on the road. Both teams are almost fully healthy, so injuries aren't likely to factor into the result of the game. The Bolts have better special teams, which is another edge in their favor. I would set this line at around -150 to Tampa Bay, if not higher. As such, there is value at the current price.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Washington Capitals Pick

Pick: Lightning ML (-135) (Bet $135 to Win $100)

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Article Author


Jason Yamaguchi is an avid New York sports fan. He has a proven record of providing +EV bets by combining traditional handicapping tactics with advanced statistics. You can follow him on Twitter @TopMoneyPicks to view all of his bets, including NFL, NHL, and MLB picks.


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