The Devils are hoping to rebound in the second game of back-to-backs on Friday after Thursday’s night’s loss to the Capitals in DC. Let’s analyze this matchup between these East Division rivals and keep cashing our NHL picks!
New Jersey Devils vs. Washington Capitals
Friday, March 26, 2021 – 7:00 PM ET at Capital One Arena
After struggling throughout the season, the Devils got on a bit of a roll, winning four of five entering last night’s clash with the Capitals. However, after drawing first blood early in the first period off of an unassisted goal by Nicholas Merkley, the Devils would fall behind until Jesper Bratt tallied on a power-play opportunity to knot the game at three apiece.
It was a close contest throughout and the Devils not only won more faceoffs but outshot the Capitals as well, 24-22. Unfortunately for New Jersey, the Caps’ Evgeny Kuznetsov would counter a minute later with his second goal of the evening which also proved to be the game-winner in a 4-3 victory for Washington.
Mackenzie Blackwood got the starting assignment for New Jersey last night and it was not his finest performance as he allowed four goals on 22 shots. The 24-year-old Ontario native has been getting the majority of the starts this season over veteran Scott Wedgewood but has only started four consecutive games once this season. And because this would be his fourth straight start, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Wedgewood tending the twine tonight. Goalies are unconfirmed at the time of this writing.
Washington enters Friday’s contest having won eight of its last nine games with the most recent being the 4-3 win over the Devils last night. Alex Ovechkin has been on a heater and he continued his torrid pace with a goal and an assist in the second period on Thursday night while fellow Russian, Evgeny Kuznetsov, has found his groove five weeks after being sidelined with
COVID-19. It took several games for the 28-year-old veteran to find his legs but he certainly has found them recently, scoring at least a point in seven of his last eight games including a pair of goals last night against the Devils.
“After the pretty long break after COVID, (it) wasn’t (an) easy one to get back in hockey shape,” said Kuznetsov. “I hope that I’m going to continue to grow and I hope the team is going to play much better and know we can be successful.
“The hockey thing, it’s so funny: It’s so hard to find (your) game, and it’s so easy to lose that game. I hope that we’re getting in the right direction where we’re understanding the system, we execute the plays that we want to make, how we want to play.”
Wanna Make a Bet?
The meeting last night between the haves and the have-nots in the East Division was highly competitive, and although the Capitals skated out with a win in hand, it wasn’t easy. It took New Jersey to score in order for Washington’s offense to wake up and retaliate. After each Devils’ goal last night, the Capitals responded within two minutes in netting one of their own. It’s almost as though they needed something to catch their attention and had they not been so proficient last night in doing so, it could very easily have cost them the game.
The NHL odds on this one are even a bit higher than they were last night. The best online betting sites like BetMGM and Unibet are dealing the Caps as anywhere between -200 and -220 home chalk. It is hard to disagree with that because the Devils played as well as they are capable last night and still came up empty to a vastly superior team, and one that has defeated them in all five meetings this season.
However, it should also be noted that only one of Washington’s wins this season has been by more than a goal so to say this will be a walkover is not giving Jersey enough credit. But with that as the caveat, the Russian triumvirate of Alex Ovechkin, Dmitry Orlov, and Evgeny Kuznetsov has nestled nicely into a groove after the first two were suspended for violating COVID protocols while the latter was sick with it. All three were out of sync upon returning but not anymore and that means trouble for the Devils.
Sometimes you have to swallow hard to lay lumber this heavy but you could also include Washington in a parlay if the money scares you. Either way, bet the Caps and cash a ticket.
NHL Pick: Capitals -200 at BetMGM