NHL: Best Matchup of the Week and Betting Pick

One of the best rivalries in hockey will renew on Wednesday night when the Washington Capitals host the Pittsburgh Penguins. These two teams have a lot of history with one another in recent seasons, and each team is led by a future Hall of Famer. Alex Ovechkin finally led his Capitals team to the Stanley Cup a season ago, while Sidney Crosby has been the ultimate winner since making his debut with the Penguins. Both the Capitals and Penguins have gotten off to slow starts to the season, but one of these teams will likely emerge as the winner of the Metropolitan Division. Let's take a closer look at a few keys to this matchup before picking the winner.

Special Teams

Special teams could play a huge role in this game as each team has excelled in one aspect so far this season. The Capitals have scored on 35.9 percent of their power play chances in 2018, which is the best percentage in the NHL. On the flipside, the Penguins have killed off 85.3% of their penalties, which is the fourth best mark in the league. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin have combined for ten power play goals already this season, but the Penguins will put a lot of attention on them. It will be interesting to see which side has the edge when the Penguins commit a penalty in this game.


The Capitals and Penguins enter this week both averaging 3.8 goals per game which is the highest total in the NHL. Ovechkin leads the Capitals with 10 goals on the season while Kuznetsov has racked up a team high 17 points. Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel have each scored seven goals to share the lead for the Penguins. Washington has much better offensive lines than the Penguins, but Pittsburgh gets their defense involved in their offense regularly. Defensemen Kris Letang and Jamie Oleksiak have combined for seven goals and 12 assists which puts a ton of pressure on opponents. Look for both teams to take plenty of chances on offense in this game in hopes of lighting the lamp.


The goaltending and defense could play a pivotal role in this game, and the Penguins have been much better on that side of the puck this season. The Penguins have given up 3.2 goals per game this season, but the Capitals have been much worse, giving up 3.8. Pittsburgh has yet to decide on a top goalie as Matt Murray has struggled for much of the season. Murray gave up five goals in the Penguins recent loss to the Maple Leafs, and has posted a 3.68 goals against average this season. Backup goalie Casey DeSmith has been much better than Murray, posting a 2.20 goals against average. Braden Holtby is the clear top goalie for the Capitals, but he has also struggled in net for Washington. Holtby has a 3.62 goals against average this season, but does have one shutout. The Washington defense has left Holtby hung out to dry many times this season.

Capitals Win

This game will likely be a high scoring affair as both teams have a ton of offensive talent. Pittsburgh has done a better job of limiting opponents so far this season, but the Capitals offense is at another level. Washington gives up a ton of goals, but they have the the offense to overcome it. Look for the Capitals to take care of business at home against the Penguins.