Hurricanes visit Capitals in Friday NHL odds fight

By: David Schwab | Thursday, March 10, 2011

Washington has allowed just eight goals in its six-game win streak.

The Carolina Hurricanes will try and slow down the red-hot Washington Capitals when these two Southeast Division foes face off against one another this Friday night at DC's Verizon Center. Game time is set for 4 p.m. (PT) and it will be broadcast regionally on FOX Sports and the Comcast Network.

Carolina finds itself in a precarious position as the NHL regular season continues to wind down. It is currently tied with Buffalo for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference standings with a total of 72 points.

The Hurricanes are 31-26-10 straight-up (40-27 against the spread) with 15 games left to play. The Sabres have a slight edge in the race with a game in hand.

This game becomes even more important after Carolina lost to Chicago 5-2 last Friday night as a 192 road underdog only to follow it up by dropping a tough 3-2 OT decision to Atlanta as a 172 home favorite this past Wednesday. It continues to tread water in the standings with a 4-4-2 SU record in its last 10 games.

The Hurricanes have one of the most versatile players in the league in Eric Staal. He leads the team in goals with 29 and has also added 33 assists for a total of 62 points. The next highest point total on the team belongs to Jeff Skinner with 23 goals and 26 assists. Carolina is ranked eighth in the NHL in scoring with an average of 2.82 goals a game.

Cam Ward continues to be solid in goal allowing 2.69 goals on average with a .919 save percentage. He has also been an absolute workhorse with 59 starts in 67 games, the second-highest total of any goalie this season.

Washington is already in postseason form with eight wins in its last 10 games including six straight victories heading into this one. This past Monday night the Capitals notched a key win against Tampa Bay in a 2-1 OT shootout as a 119 road underdog. The streak reached six with a dominating 5-0 shutout of Edmonton as a 272 home favorite on Wednesday night. This recent run has left Washington just two points behind Philadelphia for the top spot in the East. The Capitals are currently 38-20-10 SU (24-44 ATS) with 86 points.

One of the most impressive aspects of this winning streak is that they have given up a total of eight goals in the last six games, well below their average of 2.38 which is fourth-best in the league. Braden Holtby is expected to get the start in goal against Carolina but it could still be a game time decision. He has only started eight games this season but has a 1.95 GGA and a save percentage of .926.

The news out of Washington is not all good as it continues to have problems finding the back of the net. The team has averaged 2.5 goals over the past six games which is actually less than its 2.65 goals-per-game season average. All-Star left winger Alex Ovechkin leads the team with 27 goals and 45 assists and Nicklas Backstrom is second on the team in scoring with 55 points.

Carolina is 18-6 this season as a favorite but just 13-39 as an underdog. The total has been evenly split over the course of 66 games at 32-32-2, but has stayed ‘under’ in three of its last four.

Washington has been favored in almost 84 percent of its games this season with an overall record of 32-24. It is 5-6 in the 11 games it closed as a money line underdog. The total has stayed ‘under’ in nine of its last 10 games and in 48 of 67 games this season.

Backstrom (fractured thumb) missed the win in Tampa on Monday and is expected to be out of Friday's game as well.  The Caps are also dealing with Mike Green out of the lineup due to a concussion.  The defenseman is expected to remain out two more weeks.

The Capitals have won all four previous meetings this season with three of the games ending in an identical 3-2 score. Washington was favored all four times and total stayed ‘under’ in every game.

There appears to be no tangible reason to mess with a perfect recipe so stick with the Capitals and the ‘under’ this time around as well.

 
 
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