Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning will face each other in one of the most exciting NHL matches this weekend. The home side opened the campaign with a victory, and they want to continue in the same fashion. The visitors bounced back with a win in their second match of the season, and they look forward to putting another good performance on the road.
Washington started the preseason slowly, but they raised their form at the right time. After two straight wins before the start of the regular season, the hosts finished the preparation period with a 2-3-1 record. On the other hand, Tampa Bay had a 3-4 preseason record, and despite being excellent in the offense, they still need to do better in the back. These defensive problems are still present at the start of the new campaign.
Washington Capitals – Can they have a better post-season campaign?
The Capitals had a very good regular season in 2020/21, as they finished second in the East Division, having the same number of points as the Penguins. They entered the playoffs with a 36-15-5 record and had big ambitions in the post-season. However, their dreams of reaching the Stanley Cup finals ended after the first knockout round, as Washington took just one win in a tie against the Bruins. The Capitals aim for the playoffs spot again, and they have started the new campaign successfully.
Washington heads to this match after beating the Rangers 5-1 on the home ice in the season opener. Alex Ovechkin showed his class again by scoring twice and logging two assists. The Capitals traditionally play excellently at home, and they have a chance for a strong start into the season since they open it with three games at Capital One Arena. Vitek Vanecek is expected to book his second start on the goal for the Capitals, and this goalie had a .958 save percentage against the Rangers, conceding just once from 23 rival’s shots.
Expected Line-Up: Vitek Vanecek, Martin Fehervary, John Carlson, Tom Wilson, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov
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Tampa Bay Lightning – Will they defend the Stanley Cup?
The Lightning haven’t enjoyed the start of the new campaign in which they defend the Stanley Cup. They lost to the Penguins 6-2 at home but managed to bounce back after the 7-6 overtime victory over Detroit Red Wings. Tampa Bay finished third in the regular season last time in the Central Division, and they made their way through winning the league. They were better than the Panthers, allowing them two wins before eliminating the Hurricanes in a five-game tie. The Lightning had a very tough job against the Islanders, but they celebrated a 4-3 victory in a tie. Eventually, they allowed just one win to the Canadiens in the Stanley Cup finals.
Steven Stamkos has led Tampa Bay with five points in the opening two matches with two goals and three assists. We should see Andrei Vasilevskiy on the goal again, but he should improve his save percentage, which is currently at .845. He has allowed 4.5 goals per match on average, and Tampa Bay should tighten its defense.
Expected Line-Up: Andrei Vasilevskiy, Jan Rutta, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point
Expert Pick #1 – Over 6 @-122
Tampa Bay has troubles in defense, and they conceded six goals in each of the previous two matches. On the other hand, they are very good in the offense, and the Lightning could do some damage to the Capitals. I’m going with the Over as my first pick for this match, and we should see at least six goals.
Expert Pick #2 – Washington Capitals to win ML @+163
The Lightning still haven’t stabilized its form, and Washington could take advantage of that. The hosts are on the rise, opening the campaign with three games at the home ice. I’m going to back the Capitals here, although it is a risky bet.
Expert Pick #3 – Capitals & Over 6.5 @+285
If we combine the first two picks, we can get excellent odds which can almost triple our initial stake. Washington Capitals might book another victory at the beginning of the campaign, and I certainly expect to see an efficient clash. Therefore, it’s going to be my third tip for this match.