All of a sudden the playoff race in the Eastern Conference is flush with teams falling all over themselves:
- Columbus Blue Jackets (0-3-3 in last six games)
- New York Islanders (0-4-0 in last four)
- Washington Capitals (2-5-0 in last seven)
- Florida Panthers (4-6-1 in last 11)
- Toronto Maple Leafs (3-5-1 in last nine)
And then there’s the big boys. The Tampa Bay Lightning have won 12 in a row. The Boston Bruins have won nine of 10. The Pittsburgh Penguins are 7-2-1 in their last 10. The cream has certainly begun to rise to the top.
Plenty of these teams are in action on Thursday, so let’s jump into the slate:
Thursday NHL Odds & Picks
Odds as of Thursday at 11 a.m. and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.
Canadiens at Capitals Odds
- Canadiens odds: +163
- Capitals odds: -190
- Over/Under: 6
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
This is a buy-low spot for both teams.
Washington returns home after a recent skid that saw them collect just four of a possible 14 points. For the first time all season, the Capitals have dropped out of first place in the Metropolitan Division, supplanted by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Montreal’s most recent tailspin culminated on Tuesday night as the Habs melted down against the historically-bad Detroit Red Wings, losing 4-3 in regulation. The Canadiens are cooked and have begun to trade away assets with an eye on 2020-21.
It’s a real shame that Montreal’s season has gone this way because the Habs boast the third-best expected goals rate (53.5%) this season and have ranked near the top of the xG table for most of the campaign. Injuries, bad luck and a lack of high-end talent has doomed Montreal to mediocrity in 2019-20, but the process looked right.
The Washington Capitals are a different story, posting good results despite mediocre 5-on-5 metrics for most of the season. The Caps have enough elite players to outrun their underlying numbers, but they’ve been playing with fire all season — especially in their own zone.
Washington allows too many scoring high-danger scoring chances (11.2 per 60 minutes at 5-on-5) and the Caps rank 20th in the NHL in expected goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. Those aren’t terrible numbers, but they aren’t good either.
Montreal, for all of its flaws, is able to take advantage of poor defenses. The Habs rank third in the NHL at creating high-danger scoring chances and their 2.64 expected goals for per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 is bested by only two teams in the circuit.