Capitals vs Penguins Betting Line

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Hockey’s two best players, Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby battle in the newly created New Year’s tradition of outdoor hockey: the NHL Winter Classic. This is the NHL’s 4th venture into outdoor games on New Year’s Day which started in 2008. Last year, the Boston Bruins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park in overtime behind Marco Sturm’s winner. The Penguins are favored, coming into the game at -140 at The Capitals are listed at +120. On the puck line, you can get the Capitals at +1.5 (-245), or the Penguins at -1.5 (+205).

Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins Winter Classic Preview

This year it is Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field that plays host to the Winter Classic set for 8 pm ET on Saturday. The weather forecast is calling for showers which could potentially move the game to Sunday afternoon. For all of the latest game previews, visit the Sports Betting Lines home page.

Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins (25-11-3) are the top team in the NHL (thanks in large part to Crosby) with 53 points and lead the NHL’s Atlantic Division. Crosby recently had his 25 game point streak snapped in a 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Islanders. But Sid the Kid, now almost 23 and a veteran of six years in the league, leads the NHL in scoring and is on pace for a 60+ goal and 130 + point season: still a far cry from all-time leader Wayne Gretzky who scored and unbelievable 92 goals in 1981-82 for the Edmonton Oilers. Crosby receives many comparisons with team owner and all-time Penguin scorer Mario Lemieux. His 25 point streak included four and three goal games as well as five point nights. Crosby has 65 points in 39 games this year.

Pittsburgh’s fifth best scoring offense has other options, namely Evgeni Malkin who has 32 points off 13 goals and 19 assists. The hard-nosed forward has missed six games this year with injuries but appears to be in solid form of late. Defenseman Kris Letang also has 32 points totaled through six goals and 26 assists. Letang is also a remarkable plus 19 for the season (comparable to Crosby’s +20). Offensively, Pittsburgh has balance and depth with Chris Kunitz totaling 25 points, Matt Cooke 18 points, Alex Goligoski 18 points plus Pascal Dupuis and Mark Letestu with 17 points each.

Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik are two of the team’s top defensemen heading a team that is the best in the NHL in terms of killing penalties. Pittsburgh’s penalty kill percentage is 87.5 and their goals against average is a paltry 2.3.

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has posted 17 wins in 29 games and a 2.28 goals against average. His save percentage is a solid 9.18. Back-up Brent Johnson is a former starter with the St. Louis Blues and has eight of his 12 games as a Penguin this year.

Washington Capitals

The Washington Capitals (22-12-5, 49 pts) are no push over and are tied for the top spot in the Southeast Division with Tampa Bay. The Capitals whitewashed Montreal on Monday with Jay Begel and Mike Green leading the way. Ovechkin however, is the heart and soul of this club. His physical play is unique among scorers and his 42 points are earned though strong work in the corners. He leads the team with 28 assists.

Alexander Semin tops the Capitals with 18 goals for the year and has 35 points. Washington’s roster is even more balanced than Pittsburgh’s in terms of scoring. Eleven players have ten or more points so far in the 2010-2011 NHL season. Defensemen Green and John Carlson have 17 points each. Center Nicklas Backstrom is the third leading scorer with 36 points while center Brooks Laich has accumulated 24 points to date.

Defensively Laich, Carlson and Ovechkin are the only Capitals players with plus/minus over 10 as Washington ranks 11th overall in goals against. The penalty kill has been a strength for the club with the Capitals ranking eighth while the power play is a mediocre 11th overall.

Goaltending has been solid if not spectacular as Michal Neuvirth has a 2.56 goals against mark with 14 wins in 26 starts, Semyon Varlamov has won half of his 12 starts posting a strong .919 save percentage.

Capitals vs Penguins Free NHL Prediction

Despite the shootout loss to the Islanders, the Pittsburgh Penguins have been the hottest team in the league. The challenge has been gaining separation from the pesky Philadelphia Flyers and the rest of the Eastern Conference. The 2011 Winter Classic has implications not only for the NHL and the local economy, but also for the standings. This is no exhibition and look for the players to take it seriously as the playoffs are only a few months away. Pittsburgh is the better team with the best player, but Ovechkin has a habit of stealing the spotlight on the big stage. Look for an upset here and take the Capitals.

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