The Vegas Knights have only been around for a season but if you had to name one of their top rivals it would have to be the Washington Capitals. That’s because it was the Knights who the Caps beat last year to win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Washington dominated that series 4 games to 1 and oddsmakers have them seeming to continue that trend in the October 10th NHL free pick (WSH -150). Vegas seems to be suffering a hangover as they’ve stumbled to a 1-2 record out of the gates but is this the game they’ve had circled on their calendars?
Knights Going For Points – Not Revenge
Obviously a win in the October 10th NHL free pick isn’t going to make the Stanley Cup change hands like it would a UFC belt. Vegas knows this, thus they’d be wise to approach this contest like any other game and not let emotions take over. Easier said than done, yes. What the Knights need though is 2 points after suffering two devastating losses so far and with their only win of the season coming in a shootout against Minnesota. Otherwise Vegas lost 2-5 at home to Philadelphia to start the year (as -175 favorites) and dropped a 2-4 contest to Buffalo last time out as -139 favorites. Suddenly Marc-Andre Fleury is a concern in net after allowing 9 goals in the two Vegas losses and on just 42 shots. Fleury’s .841 save percentage is 8th worst out of every goaltender to get a start so far this season.
Vegas did win both of the regular season games between these two teams a year ago so that’s something to lean on tonight.The Knights have struggled to light the lamp so far through three games, failing to break the 2 goal barrier in any game. That includes 0 PP goals so far through 2018. Jonathan Marchessault is off to a solid start on the year with 2 goals in 3 games but Vegas has received a combined 2 points from William Karlsson and offseason acquisition Paul Stastny (who is Q for tonight) which is a major reason for their offensive woes. The Caps did give up 7 goals to Pittsburgh last time out so maybe Vegas can get their sticks rolling tonight.
Caps Seem Poised for a Repeat
The Washington Capitals are listed at just 14/1 to win the 2019 Stanley Cup according to VegasInsider.com but that doesn’t seem like a bad wager, at least through the first two games of the season. Washington raised last year’s championship banner to the tune of a 7-0 win over Boston on opening night and followed that up netting 6 goals in an OT loss to Pittsburgh. 33-year-old Alex Ovechkin doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all after he has 2 goals in 2 games. TJ Oshie has him beat with 3 goals and a team-leading 5 points while Nicklas Backstrom has been a nice table setter with 4 assists so far. If Fleury continues to struggle for Vegas in the October 10th NHL free pick look for this trio to push towards tonight’s O/U of 6.
Wednesday night’s contest with Vegas presents an important bounce back game for Caps goalie Braden Holtby. He was great in the opener, stopping all 25 Bruins shots that he faced but did allow 7 goals the next time out against Pittsburgh. That second game may be considered a bit of a write off however. New Caps coach Todd Reirden decided to start Holtby on back-to-back nights when the NHL season was just 2 days old and although he gave up 7 goals the goaltender also had 41 saves. Washington was fatigued and emotionally drained after the banner raising the night before and it showed. With 5 days off between that loss and tonight’s game expect a recharged Caps team on the ice.
October 10th NHL Free Pick Betting
33-year old Marc-Andre Fleury has looked every bit his age this year – and that’s not a good thing. Not only has the Vegas goalie been largely ineffective, he could be in look-ahead mode with a matchup in Pittsburgh against his former team tomorrow night. The Capitals are rested after a back-to-back meeting against those same Penguins last time out and they should exert the same dominance over Vegas that led them to the ’17/18 Stanley Cup.
NHL Free Pick: Washington Capitals -1.5 (+200)