On the bright side, Washington is at home for the March 20th NHL free pick. Now for the not-so-great stuff as the Capitals are not only up against the top team in the league in the Lightning, Washington is playing on 0 days rest after a matchup in New Jersey on Tuesday. Oddsmakers aren’t completely giving this one to Tampa Bay however, making the Lightning a very valuable -139 road favorite.
Lightning In a Cool Down on Wednesday?
Tampa Bay has to devise a strategy on how to attack the last 9 games of the 2018/19 regular season. After all, the Lightning have already clinched the President’s Trophy and will have home ice throughout the postseason. Does Tampa Bay rest their top stars or do they keep the momentum going knowing that only two teams since 2005 have had the most points in the regular season and gone on to win the Stanley Cup? The Lightning may also be motivated to notch 16 points out of the remaining 18 available so they can set the all-time record for points in a season.
If there was any other opponent besides Washington on the schedule in the March 20th NHL free pick it might be easy for TB to get complacent. The Capitals have something the Lightning want however and a huge win over the defending Stanley Cup champions would be great for TB momentum – and coach Jon Cooper knows it. The Lightning have rattled off five straight wins, scoring 24 goals in the process. Nikita Kucherov is great and will be named the Hart Memorial Trophy winner shortly, but Tyler Johnson has 4 goals in his last 4 games while Steven Stamkos has netted a puck in 2 of 3. That’s a lot for Washington to contend with on the B2B.
Washington in a Tough Spot Here
The Capitals beat New Jersey 4-1 on Wednesday and the blowout win at least eased some of the strain of Wednesday’s back-to-back. The Capitals have gone just 2-2 over their last four, but each game was on the road. The Capitals are 21-9-4 at home this season but obviously Tampa Bay is a solid road team with a 26-7-2 record away from Amalie Arena. One thing the win over the Devils did do is propel the Caps back into first in the Metropolitan. Washington is still in a must-win however as the Islanders are just 2 games back.
The Capitals beat Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals to reach the Stanley Cup. The Lightning are going to come out heated in the March 20th NHL free pick much like they did in a 6-3 win over Washington on Saturday. The Capitals have won 8 of 10 however and they saved #1 goaltender Braden Holtby for Wednesday’s contest. Holtby is 6-2 over his last 8, holding five opponents to 2 goals or less during that span. There’s also that Alex Ovechkin guy that can give Washington an edge (WAS +117) as he has 5 points the last four games.
March 20th NHL Free Pick Betting
It’s hard to go against Tampa Bay in this one, especially with decent value and with Washington on the back-to-back. There’s a chance that the Lightning come out complacent with really nothing to play for, but at the same time you’d think they’d love an opportunity to stick it to the defending Stanley Cup Champions (who beat them in last years Eastern Conference Finals) who may be a bit fatigued.
NHL Free Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning -139