Washington Capitals (41-22-7) at Philadelphia Flyers (34-27-8)
NHL Hockey: Thursday, March 14, 2019 (Wells Fargo Center)
Washington -135 Over/Under: 6.5
Free NHL Picks Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Can you smell that? That’s the smell of playoff hockey drawing nearer and nearer. For lowly Sabres fans like me, this is incredibly depressing as it looked like the playoffs were a lock at one point. As we all know, they’ve fallen off like Daunte Culpepper did once he left Minnesota. On the flip side, Philly looked like they were dead in the water but they’ve turned their season around and are a major threat to secure one of the last wild-card seeds.
Tonight spells a big test for the Flyers because Washington is a team they may very well be facing if they do make the playoffs. I expect the hits to be harder, the shifts to be greater in intensity and the overall feel to be that of a game being played in May. Washington is seven games over .500 on the road while the Flyers are “just” five games over .500 at home.
When looking at the stats, it would appear that I would give the nod to Washington tenfold. In regards to the Eastern Conference, they’re fourth in goal scoring while Philly is ninth. They’re ninth is goals against while Philly is 12th. Washington is 8-2 in their last ten while Philly is 6-3-1. Special Teams? Washington outranks Philly their too.
It’s like this. Philly may be ranked 26th in goals against, as well as having a -16 goal differential but those numbers are misleading. Many of those goals were given up when Philly was on the rocks earlier in the year. They’ve been much tighter over the last couple of months. You don’t go 6-3-1 without that kind of improvement, do you?
Neither team is known for their discipline but Philly holds a slight advantage in that regard. Philly is also in the midst of an incredible surge to the playoffs, thanks in large part to the goaltending of Carter Hart. Knock on wood. It appears Philly may’ve solved the void that’s plagued them for so long. There’s also the huge contrast in face-offs’, Philly is first in the league while Washington is dead last in the NHL.
Now, the sure-fire win for Washington looks a lot more like a toss up. Home ice advantage will no doubt play a role so if Washington wants the advantage, a goal within the first five minutes will do that. If Philly is able to get a couple of early goals, Washington may be done.
At the same time, these are the defending Stanley Cup Champions I’m talking about. A two-goal lead is nothing to a team that’s ranked fourth in goal scoring. That’s what makes this matchup so intriguing. You have one team trying to hold on to their division lead while another is scrapping and clawing for a playoff spot. This win would be a huge swing for the Flyers but I don’t think it will necessarily derail them if they lose.
FREE NHL Prediction Philadelphia Flyers vs. Washington Flyers
So whom am I picking? I’m going with the Flyers in this game. A team that’s as hot as they’ve been, playing at home against a team that just gave up five goals in their last game? While I don’t think it’ll be easy by any means, I feel two points will be going to Philly but it’s going to be tight. In fact, I’m calling that this game goes into overtime.
Scott Gordon appears to have been the spark the Flyers needed and against Todd Reirden’s Capitals, I see Philly pulling off the most thrilling and entertaining win of the season. In a match that, I believe, will be as close to a playoff game without being a playoff game, the Flyers will prove they can compete with the elite of the NHL.
Pick: Flyers 4-Capitals 3