The Washington Capitals take two strong long-term trends into a Stanley Cup final rematch against the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday night.
The Capitals, led by captain Alex Ovechkin, are a -167 betting favorite on the NHL odds with the Golden Knights offering +135 as the underdog while the total is at 5.5 goals at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Counting the championship series four months ago, the Capitals are 15-5 in their last 20 home games against Western Conference teams. Since the start of the 2015-16 season, the Capitals are also 15-4 in their last 19 regular-season home games as a -160 to -180 moneyline favorite. Vegas is 5-3 as a -125 to -145 moneyline underdog on the road in its short history.
The OddsShark NHL Database also notes that the Golden Knights, who are visiting the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday as part of a five-game road trip, are 6-4 in the front end of back-to-back games.
The main question with the Golden Knights, who are 1-2-0 so far this season, is whether they will regress toward the mean after making a run to the Stanley Cup final as a first-year expansion team last season. Through three games, the Golden Knights and their top two lines led by William Karlssson and Paul Stastny have just five goals and have struggled to convert chances directly in front of the net, which is where most goals are scored in the NHL.
The Golden Knights will call on goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who has a 3.93 goals-against average and .841 save percentage in two games.
On top of the strong home trends, the Capitals, who are 1-0-1 this season, may have greater continuity than the typical Stanley Cup-winning team, as 18 of the 20 players who dressed for the closeout game against Vegas in June remain on the roster.
Ovechkin and center Evgeny Kuznetsov have a new linemate with Brett Connolly at right wing with Tom Wilson (suspension) sidelined, but the Capitals’ second and third units centered by Nicklas Backstrom and Lars Eller are relatively strong. That third unit, with Eller between Chandler Stephenson and Andre Burakovsky, could be a deciding factor. On the back end, Michal Kempny has cleared concussion protocol and can rejoin John Carlson on the first defense pairing.
The Capitals, who have also had a four-day break since their last game, will likely start goalie Braden Holtby, who has a 3.46 goals-against average and .894 save percentage in two starts.
Early-season NHL games can occasionally become track meets on ice. The total has gone OVER in nine of Vegas’ last 14 games in October and the total has also gone OVER in 13 of Washington’s last 20 games in October.
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