NHL Odds: Hot Ducks host slipping Capitals

By: David Schwab | Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Washington Capitals arrive in Anaheim losers of their last three.

The Washington Capitals will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak when they travel to the West Coast for a Wednesday night tilt at the Honda Center with the Anaheim Ducks. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (PT) and the game will be broadcast regionally on FOX Sports-West.

Washington has been limping toward the postseason with just four wins in its last 10 games. The Capitals are coming off a 4-1 loss to Los Angeles this past Saturday night as 144 home favorite followed by a 3-2 loss to Phoenix as a 106 road favorite on Monday.

The defeats dropped the Caps to 29-18-10 straight up on the year (19-38 against the spread) and five points behind Tampa Bay in the Southeast Division with a total of 68 points. They are currently in sixth-place in the Eastern Conference standings.

Scoring remains an issue for Washington as it is ranked 20th in the NHL with a goals-per-game average of just 2.65. All-Star left winger Alex Ovechkin leads the team with 21 goals and 56 total points and center Nicklas Backstrom has 14 goals and 36 assists, but after that the production from the rest of the team has been average at best.

Defensively, the Capitals remain one of the best teams in the league. They are ranked sixth in the league in goals allowed with a goals-against-average of 2.42 and second on the penalty kill with a kill rate of 86.2 percent. Semyon Varlamov is expected to get the start in goal for Washington against the Ducks. He has a goals-against-average of 2.22 and a .925 save percentage.

In direct contrast the Capitals, Anaheim comes into this game on fire with eight wins in its last 10 games including four straight victories. The past Friday the Ducks edged Calgary 5-4 in overtime as a 126 road underdog and ran their streak to four with a solid 4-0 shutout of Edmonton as a 135 home favorite on Sunday.

They are now just one point behind Phoenix in the Pacific Division and in fifth-place in the Western Conference with a total of 68 points. Anaheim is 32-21-4 SU for the season and 32-25 ATS.

The Ducks are only slightly better than Washington in the scoring department with an average of 2.72 goals a game. Right winger Corey Perry is tied for fifth in the NHL in goals with 28 and seventh in total points with 61. He is joined by Bobby Ryan, who has 27 goals and 18 assist and Teemu Selanne, who has 17 goals and a team-high 36 assists.

Goalie Jonas Hiller has started 45 of the Ducks 57 games this year and should get the start in this one. He has been solid all season long with a 2.50 GGA and a .925 save percentage. Anaheim is ranked 13th in the league in goals allowed with a GGA of 2.72.

Washington is 27-23 as a favorite this year but just 2-5 as an underdog. The total has stayed ‘under’ in 40 of its 57 games, or 70 percent of the time.

Anaheim is 13-6 as a favorite and 19-19 as an underdog. The total has stayed ‘under’ in 31 of its 57 games.

These teams met earlier this season with the Ducks coming away with a 2-1 OT victory as a 173 road underdog. This time around Anaheim should open as a mild favorite and remain a solid pick to add to the Capitals recent misery with another win in a low-scoring game.

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