By Max Harper
The Flyers and Capitals play the second half of a two-game miniseries tonight in DC after the Flyers beat the Caps 7-4 on Sunday.
Tonight’s game opened with the Flyers as favorites at -125 and the line has moved down slightly into the -117 to -121 range. The total opened at 6.5, moved down to 6 and locked in at that number with the OVER favored in the -115 to -120 range.
Only the Vancouver Canucks have scored more goals at even strength than the Flyers, who have three players in the top 30 in league scoring and are led by James van Riemsdyk, who has had a stellar start with 18 points in 11 games.
The only question about the Flyers’ offensive prowess is how sustainable it is. They have the top-end talent to continue to score, but their numbers are a bit inflated to start the year.
While they rank 12th in high-danger scoring chances, they have scored on a league-high 23 of those chances and lead the league in shooting percentage at 13.56. Only four teams have scored more than 15 high-danger goals and 20 teams have a shooting percentage lower than nine percent, so both numbers are due to regress for Philly.
The goaltending situation has to be a bit concerning for Flyers fans as well as starter Carter Hart has yet to play to the level he showed last season. Hart has a 5-2-2 record to go along with a .897 save percentage and 3.49 goals-against average.
The Caps have lost three games in a row but have played solid hockey throughout the losing streak. They outshot and out-chanced their opponent in two of the three games despite the absence of a couple of notable players and have managed to stay near the top of the East Division despite being without multiple key players, including their starting goalie.
Ilya Samsonov, along with teammates Evgeny Kuznetsov, Alex Ovechkin and Dmitry Orlov, was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list on January 20 after testing positive for the coronavirus the previous day. Ovechkin and Orlov have since returned to the lineup but Kuznetsov and Samsonov have missed the past eight games. They are eligible to play in this game.
In Samsonov’s stead, rookie goalie Vitek Vanecek has been thrust into making several consecutive starts and has performed admirably. Vanecek is 5-2-2 this season with a .903 save percentage, a number inflated by the fact that he was pulled in Sunday’s loss to Philly. Samsonov’s arrival comes at the perfect time for Washington.
Betting Pick: Washington +100
The Capitals are at home, are likely getting their starting goalie back, and will be making a considerable push to avoid losing four in a row. Getting that team +100 in a matchup that is really pretty even is gravy. Sign us up.