Nashville Predators (+154) at Washington Capitals (-171, 5.5 o/u)
The Washington Capitals’ (50-14-5, 105 pts) have already clinched a playoff berth and are all but destined to be the top seed in the East. The best team in the NHL will try to stay motivated down the stretch as they host the Nashville Predators (36-22-13, 85 pts) tonight at the Verizon Center (7:00 PM Eastern).
There are still 13 games left in the regular season, but there’s little left for Washington to achieve. For the Caps, the remainder of the season is about getting healthy and ready for the playoffs.
A lack of motivation may have been the cause of a recent two-game slide. Washington lost road games to the Kings and Sharks before beating the Carolina Hurricanes, 2-1 in overtime, last Tuesday.
The first period has been an issue for the team; they have only led for two minutes over their past 16 games while trailing for 210:53.
“I’m kind of sick of talking about it, but it’s a stat, it’s there and it’s ugly,” Capitals forward Justin Williams told the Associated Press. “I think sometimes if you just keep talking about it, talking about it and talking about, then it becomes a problem. They you can get it in your head and all sorts of other things.”
The Capitals, however, have found a way to bounce back later in games. Washington has outscored opponents 20-9 during the third period in the last 16 games.
The Predators, on the other side, have a solid ten-point lead in the Wild card race thanks to a 9-1-2 run. Nashville has won their last two games over Edmonton and the New York Islanders; the trip to Washington will be their only road game in the next ten days as they prepare to host Los Angeles, Vancouver, Columbus, and Colorado.
Washington has posted a 6-3-0-1 record in their last ten meetings against Nashville outscoring the Predators 3.2 to 2.6 in that span. As long as they aren’t caught looking ahead, they should be full value for the win.
Pick: Washington (-174).
(Photo credit: Michael Miller (Own work) (flickr) [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)