NHL Hockey Betting: Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals

NHL Hockey Betting:  Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals

The two best teams in the Eastern Conference go at it tonight as the Pittsburgh Penguins face the Washington Capitals. The Caps ran away and hid with the Eastern Conference crown a long time ago. And while they haven’t exactly ‘taken it easy’ during the final weeks of the regular season they have put it in ‘cruise control’ with an eye to the playoffs. The Capitals are 5-3-2 in their last ten games. The Penguins have been the hottest team in hockey over the past couple of months and come into Washington having won seven straight and 9 of their last 10 (9-1-0). They still have to be mindful of the New York Rangers in third place though due to the NHL seedings format all it would really do is flip flop the venue of their first round series. New York is 3 back of the Penguins with 2 games to play. That means that a Pittsburgh win will clinch second place regardless of what the Rangers might do.

What is hard to figure out about this matchup is what it means to each team. Washington has three games remaining and nothing they can do in the regular season can improve their postseason status. Then again, other than the aforementioned motivation to finish second there’s not much the Penguins have to gain from a win here. A team that struggled in the early going is a lot less likely to want to take the foot off the gas when they’re winning games. For that reason, the Penguins’ 7 game winning streak might be the most important motivational component of this contest. It gives them a tangible reason to want to win as opposed to this being just another late regular season ‘day at the office’.

Pittsburgh is playing at such a high level right now there’s no real reason to think about getting in front of them, even with the Washington Capitals. Washington has been excellent at home this year (only 7 regulation losses) but at the price and with the current form of the Penguins no other way to play this.