San Jose Sharks (28-12-6) at Washington Capitals (22-16-7)
|Date & Time||Tuesday January 14, 2014, 7:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Washington Capitals +124 / San Jose Sharks -136 --- Over/Under: 5.5
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The Sharks head into Washington on Tuesday night looking to secure their 29th victory of the season while the Caps look to claim second in the Metro for their own.
San Jose has been class all season long and is very much in the mix in the Western Conference playoff picture and if not for a ridiculously impressive stretch from the Anaheim Ducks they’d certainly be in the running for the Pacific division crown. The Sharks currently sit in second place in the division but are 13 points behind the league leading Ducks and unless Anaheim has a monumental collapse the Sharks can only hope for a second place finish. The loss of Logan Couture has been tough for the Sharks as he is one of the best young centers in the NHL and while they have more than enough talent to pick up the scoring slack it is tough to fill the void left by a guy like Couture. Antii Niemi has been strong once again in the San Jose crease and while many credit his success to the team in front of him I think he is a more than capable netminder who should challenge for the starter’s role for team Finland at the upcoming Olympics. Niemi will get the call here for San Jose as he goes up against Braden Holtby for the Capitals.
The Capitals currently sit in second place in a very log jammed Metropolitan division where if they go on even a mini losing skid they could fall as far down as 7th and with the Islanders starting to heat up nobody is safe. Washington had high expectations coming into the season after one full year of the Adam Oates regime and while you can’t classify their season to date as a disappointment they certainly aren’t where they thought they would be which is challenging the Penguins for the division crown. Alex Ovechkin is enjoying personal success once again as he is right in the mix for the Art Ross and Richard Trophies but if they fail to make the playoffs it would be all for not as his legacy has yet to include playoff success. Braden Holtby has struggled in the Washington crease with a GAA well over three and while a lot of that can stem from the Washington blue line you have to fault Holtby for at least partial blame. This is an interesting spot as the Sharks haven’t been particularly strong on the road this season whereas the Caps find most of their success at home but it is Washington who is the underdog. I don’t believe in Washington enough to pull the trigger but I do think we see some goals here and my play is on the over.