Free Picks: Philadelphia Flyers vs Washington Capitals

Flyers vs Capitals NHL
Philadelphia Flyers vs Washington Capitals, NHL, Wells Fargo Center

The best sports bet for today is taking the under (6.0 at 888Sport) because I don’t see a ton of goals in this game. The Capitals are without Tom Wilson, who has been suspended, and the Flyers (13-7-3) are just out of a playoff position, so they must come into the game with a defensive mentality.

Defense should rule

When I go about making my NHL picks, I look at a few things, and one of them is defense. Approaching the midway mark of the 56-game season, the Flyers sit outside a playoff spot and are desperate. They realize they have to tighten up their defense. They rank 21st in the league in the goals-against department, and coach Alain Vigneault is too good of a coach to stand for this.

The season series is tied 1-1, with the Capitals winning 3-1 last Sunday.. The Flyers exploded for a 7-4 victory over Washington in the first meeting. But that was over a month ago, so I think you can throw out that result. I’m calling for the total to be under 6 goals. Washington is coming off a 5-4 OT victory against New Jersey on Tuesday, while the Flyers defeated the last-place Buffalo Sabres 5-4.

I don’t necessarily believe that Washington’s offense will be held back as much as the Flyers’ offense will be bottled up. When I’m making my NHL predictions, I look at the goaltenders, and Capitals goalie Vitek Vanecek has been consistent. He has a .904 save percentage, which is much better than Flyers’ Carter Hart (.888), who was relieved in the last game by Brian Elliott.

When you’re looking at the moneyline, I would consider picking the Capitals. I like their forward, Jakub Vrana, who is coming off a two-goal game against the New Jersey Devils. And Nicklas Backstrom has five points in his last five games. They are Washington’s hottest shooters, and we aren’t even including Alex Ovechkin, who has been relatively quiet this season with 8 goals.

I’m tempted to bet the moneyline here and pick Washington, but with the opening goal total set at 6, I think I’m going to go with that selection. I just don’t see a big explosion in goals. But I don’t think you could go wrong betting the Capitals with the moneyline (-106 at 888Sport), even though the Flyers (-114 at 888Sport) are slight favorites in the opening odds.

Stats

  • Washington ranks 7th in goals per game (3.28).
  • The Capitals are 7-7 following a win.
  • Washington has a 14-10 record in O/U.
  • The Flyers have a 15-8 record in O/U.

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I live in the land of ice and snow in Toronto, Canada's largest city. I can't skate very well, but I know sports, especially hockey, after a long career writing about the Toronto Maple Leafs and other teams at the country's largest newspaper, the Toronto Star. Betting on sports can be a rewarding experience when you understand the trends and underlying characteristics of the teams and players before laying down a bet. That's how I hope to point you in the right direction.