Thursday night the Eastern Conference leading Hurricanes will stroll into DC hoping to avenge a four to two loss to the Capitals in late November. Carolina had won five in a row before dropping a game to Detroit on Tuesday, and Washington has lost three in a row as well as six of their last nine.
The Capitals will be dealing with an injured Carl Hagelin indefinitely, as he obtained an eye injury during a practice on tuesday. Carolina will look to start hot to make sure the Capitals remain off balance.
Hurricanes storm into Washington
Carolina has the best road record in the entire NHL at 18-7-3, but are two and one in their last three away games, only outscoring their opponents by one goal. Washington has struggled at home as of late, losing six straight at Capital One Arena.
Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho has 56 points in 50 games and has improved tremendously over the course of the past couple seasons. He is riding a seven game point streak, and I expect him to make it eight against the Capitals.
Goaltender Frederik Andersen has been tremendous this year, and is my frontrunner for the Vezina Trophy. He leads the league in Wins, has a goals against average of 2.03 goals per game, and has only allowed one goal in his last 120 minutes on the ice.
Carolina is hot right now and I don’t expect them to slow down. Washington is going to have their hands full Thursday night.
Many people have dubbed the Ovechkin-era Capitals the “Cardiac Caps” for how often they make their fans’ hearts skip a beat. Although the Caps won a title in 2018, most of their recent history has been full of disappointment and letdowns.
After starting off the season beautifully Washington has dropped from first to fourth in the Metropolitan division standings. January and February have been horrendous to the Capitals, shown by the combined 8-14 record in the past two months.
On the bright side, Alexander Ovechkin is having a very good season with 32 goals and 32 assists. Nicklas Backstrom has been great since returning from injury and is top 10 in points for Washington. Defenseman John Carlson has also played well, leading the team in Time on Ice per game as well as being a saving grace on the penalty kill.
Samsonov has more wins than Vanecek, but also allows more goals per game. Washington’s coaching staff has been splitting their time relatively evenly, but it’s not paying dividends for the team.
Rookie goalie Zachary Fucale made a brief appearance this season and actually played very well. In his four games he allowed five goals on 66 shots and posted a shutout in his first career NHL start. Despite this, the coaches in Washington are not ready to keep the 26 year old as a starter.
As I mentioned earlier, Carolina’s goalie situation is solid. Andersen has been phenomenal all year and looks to continue the hot streak he’s been on his past two games.
I was surprised to see that the Hurricanes are only favored at -130 with Washington coming back at +110. Carolina doesn’t have any major injuries and I expect to see Andersen start, so I’m surprised the line is so close.
Obviously Vegas has respect for the Capitals as they almost beat the Leafs on Monday. It was a close game that Washington was in until the last five minutes. That being said, the Caps have to be angry with their recent performance and could show up strong.
While I expect the Hurricanes to win the game, the Capitals could surprise everyone here.
My best bets are Hurricanes in regulation +110 or Margin of victory: Caps by one goal +600
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