NHL Best Bets: Capitals Will Punish Red Wings

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Hopefully you had a happy Thanksgiving, a fruitful Black Friday and are ready to settle in for a Saturday filled with hockey. There are 13 games to choose from on the schedule. The Rangers and Devils kick things off with a matinee game, the Canucks and Oilers clash to end the night and there are a pair of rematches from Friday (Sabres/Leafs and Blackhawks/Avalanche). There’s plenty to wager on, but let’s take a closer look at two games in particular. Here are my two best bets for Saturday:

New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils: Over 6 goals (-120)

The Rangers may be playing their second matinee game in a row after falling to the Boston Bruins in overtime on Friday, but their offense should be far from sluggish against a Devils team that gives up goals like they’re going out of style. New Jersey is giving up nearly 3.5 goals per game and will likely turn to MacKenzie Blackwood in net. Blackwood has given up 13 goals in his last three starts.

A top-10 scoring team in the Rangers vs. a bottom-five goaltending team in the Devils? That’s certainly a recipe for goals. But let’s not count out the Devils’ part of the equation.

The Rangers have been shakier defensively on the road than at home lately. New York has given up 25 goals in its last five road games. They’ll likely turn to Alexandar Georgiev between the pipes. He’s allowed 18 goals in his last four starts and gave up four goals (plus an empty-net goal) to the Devils in New Jersey on Oct. 17.

The last time these two teams met (with these same two goalies), seven goals were scored. The two starters have a combined goals against average of 6.55 for the season. Plus, the team I’d be more concerned about scoring (the Devils) is well-rested. Everything is setting up for a high-scoring game on national TV.

Washington Capitals at Detroit Red Wings: Capitals -1.5 goals (+125)

I rarely suggest playing a puck line because of the high volume of one-goal games in the NHL, but this is one I would attack. The Red Wings are a complete mess right now. Their best goal-scorer and leading point-getter Anthony Mantha is out injured. Their No. 1 goalie Jimmy Howard was just placed on IR. Let’s take a closer look at that goaltender situation, one that’s allowing a league-high 3.81 goals per game.

Detroit is left with an ill Jonathan Bernier and recently recalled Calvin Pickard in net. Pickard allowed six goals on 35 shots in Philadelphia on Friday in just his second start of the season. The only reason he was in net is because Bernier was sick but forced to play 2.5 periods on Wednesday after Howard was injured. We can’t be sure Bernier will be 100% today and if he’s not, Detroit will be forced to play essentially a minor league goalie for the second time in as many nights. Either way, advantage Washington. But what isn’t advantage Washington in this matchup?

The Capitals rank third in the NHL in goals for (3.54), 11th in goals against (2.92), sixth in power play percentage (23.3%) and ninth in penalty kill percentage (83.7). The Red Wings rank last, last, 28th and last in the NHL in all of those respective categories. There’s no reason the Capitals shouldn’t roll in this game.

Season Record: 7-6-1 (+0.5 units)