It’s still early days, but there are some serious red flags with the Washington Capitals.
An aging roster that seems caught between trying to extend its NHL contention window while Alex Ovechkin chases Wayne Gretzky’s record and a team that desperately needs a refresh, the Caps are off to a 1-3-1 start and have scored seven goals.
Washington has been one of the best teams in the NHL during the Salary Cap Era, but it became clear in 2022-23 that the Caps were spiraling.
Nonetheless, it is pretty jarring to see a team that we associate with scoring goals for fun struggling to create any offense.
The job doesn’t get any easier for Washington on Wednesday night. The Caps are a +205 underdog in New Jersey.
Capitals vs. Devils pick
There were some positives for Washington to take out of its 4-1 loss to the Maple Leafs on Tuesday night.
The score was lopsided in favor of Toronto, but the Capitals really controlled play for most of the contest.
Washington outshot the Maple Leafs, 37-17, and doubled up Toronto in terms of expected goals and high-danger scoring chances, but goaltender Joseph Woll put on a show and the Caps just couldn’t finish.
Ovechkin did open his account for the season and had 14 shots on goal, but that statline serves as a decent metaphor for how things are going for the Caps.
They just may not have the scoring talent to be even close to competitive this season.
After an uneven couple of performances to start the season, the New Jersey Devils look like they’ve found their form.
The Devils were dominant in a 5-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night and were quite impressive in a 5-4 win in overtime against the Islanders on Saturday.
New Jersey’s attack is humming and Jack Hughes is leading the charge with 14 points in seven games.
Because they are always looking to attack and swarm their opponent, the Devils tend to give up scoring chances in transition, but Washington’s lack of foot speed should mitigate that risk Wednesday night.
Betting on the NHL?
This will also be the NHL debut for Washington goaltender Hunter Shepard.
While it’s tough to project how a goalie will fare in these situations, it does seem like a monumental ask for the 27-year-old to shut down the Devils behind a very leaky defense.
The Bet: New Jersey Devils -1.5 (+100, DraftKings)