As the NHL heads into the last quarter of the regular season, it’s time for teams to make their last stand at possible playoff pushes and seedings. Two teams who are safely headed to the postseason are the Tampa Bay Lightning (#1 seed in the Eastern Conference) and the #4 Washington Capitals. Both teams are playing some mediocre hockey recently but should be up for a nice inter-conference test in the 2/20 NHL free pick.
This is the best hockey game to watch and create a FaceOff challenge on this week. pic.twitter.com/5WKRYEmB5a
— FaceOff USA (@FaceOffUSA) February 20, 2018
Tampa Seeing Their Eastern Conference Lead Slipping
TB is just 5-5 over their last 10 and coupled with Boston’s 7-3 run over that span the Lightning now see their lead atop the conference at a single point. The Lightning have dropped three of the last four and are experiencing some serious goaltending/defensive issues after surrendering 4+ goals in each of those defeats. Tampa is still scoring the puck behind their #1 offense as they’ve tallied 22 goals over their last six games but how will the defense fare in the 2/20 NHL free pick against Washington’s top 10 offense led by NHL goal scoring leader Alex Ovechkin?
Are their questions surrounding the Tampa Bay offense heading into tonight too though? No one is going to berate the talent as Nikita Kucherov leads the league with 77 points while Steven Stamkos isn’t far behind with 68. On Saturday night against the Devils however, TB fired up 51 shots but still dropped a 3-4 contest as -212 favorites. The Lightning will have the rest advantage however as Washington is playing their second game in as many nights on Tuesday. The Caps are also in their third game in four nights not to mention returning home for the first time after a season long four game road swing.
Washington Battles With a Fatigue Disadvantage
Compared to the Caps brutal recent road stretch, Tampa Bay is in the opposite situation. Tonight, the Lightning are playing in just their second game in the last five days and they are 40-16 their last 56 when playing on two days rest. Washington will have their regular goalie Braden Holtby (28-11-4) in net as they went with Philip Grubauer (6-7-2) in last night’s 3-2 win over Buffalo. That being said, in Holtby’s last outing he gave up six goals on 33 shots to Chicago and has won just four of his last 10 starts overall.
Of course the Washington offense can make up for some deficiencies of their 20th ranked defense which is the 2/20 NHL free pick total has been bumped to 6. Ovechkin has eight points in his last five games while Evgeny Kuznetsov has 10 points in his last 10 games. The Caps offense will be up against Andrei Vasilevsky in tonight’s contest but he’s allowed 4+ goals in two of his last three starts too – both on less than 30 shots.
2/20 NHL Free Pick Betting
#CapsBolts netminders: Braden Holtby (28-11-4, 2.92 GAA, .911 sv%) gets the start in goal for the Capitals. Andrei Vasilevskiy (34-12-2, 2.34 GAA, .927sv%) gets the start between the pipes for the Lightning. #GoodOne #ALLCAPS
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) February 20, 2018
The two teams could definitely combine for a lot of goals tonight consider their recent defensive issues but the last meeting was just a 3-1 Washington win back at the end of November with one score coming on an empty net. 59% of the public is liking Tampa Bay, most notably because of the Capitals playing in a back-to-back situation. With the total set at 6, Washington starting a motivated Holtby, and Tampa Bay being fresh the 2/20 NHL free pick is a solid ‘total’ play. The ‘over’ is 8-1 in the last 9 for Tampa Bay and 5-1 in the last six for the Capitals. Let the public jump on that side as tonight’s contest should be a defensive struggle.
Free Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning / Washington Capitals “Under” 6