Capitals’ Odds to Win Eastern Conference Now as Long as +600; Good Time to Buy Low on Washington?

Washington Capitals' goalie Braden Holtby takes the ice
Braden Holtby and the Washington Capitals have seen their Eastern Conference odds fall to +600 during a 4-4-0 stretch of play. Photo by Michael Miller (Wikimedia Commons).
  • The Capitals are a mediocre 4-4-0 since the All-Star break
  • Washington’s odds to win the Eastern Conference have fallen to +600
  • Is now the time to buy low on the Caps?

Washington’s Eastern Conference odds have plummeted to +600 during a 4-4-0 stretch of play.

The Capitals have an elite offense led by Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, but they’ve been hurt by defensive issues since returning from the All-Star break.

Is now the time to bet on Washington winning the East or are there better options out there?

2020 Eastern Conference Odds

Team Odds
Tampa Bay Lightning +350
Boston Bruins +400
Pittsburgh Penguins +450
Washington Capitals +600
Toronto Maple Leafs +1200
Carolina Hurricanes +1400
New York Islanders +1400
Philadelphia Flyers +1400
Columbus Blue Jackets +1600
Florida Panthers +1600
New York Rangers +2500
Buffalo Sabres +12500
Montreal Canadiens +12500
New Jersey Devils +25000
Ottawa Senators +25000
Detroit Red Wings OFF

Odds taken Feb. 14.

The Capitals lead the Metropolitan Division with 79 points, which is third in the Eastern Conference behind the Lightning (81 pts) and Bruins (82 pts).

Struggling Caps

Washington’s Eastern Conference odds fallen +600 amidst a disappointing 4-4-0 stretch of play. What’s most concerning about the Capitals is they have been one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL since the All-Star break.

The Capitals are allowing 3.75 goal-per-game since the break, which is third-worst in the NHL. A big reason for their defensive struggles is the inconsistent play of goaltender Braden Holtby, who has seen his save percentage fall to .896 on the season.

Given the season Holtby is having, it’s no surprise oddsmakers don’t have confidence in Washington going far this year. The three teams in front of Washington (Bruins, Lightning, Penguins) in the odds all have elite starting goaltenders who are having much better seasons than Holtby.

Samsonov The Answer?

If the playoffs started today, many would argue that the Caps should start their backup netminder Ilya Samsonov. The 22-year-old has performed much better than Holtby this season, posting a 16-4-1 record with a  .917 save percentage.

Samsonov could give the Caps some sneaky value at +600, but it’s important to note he’s never played an NHL playoff game. It’s very hard to predict if regular season goaltending will translate to strong playoff goaltending, so there’s a risk involved with counting on the young and inexperienced Samsonov to carry the Caps to the promised land.

Examining The Metrics

With forwards such as Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov, there’s no denying the Capitals have the offensive talent for another long playoff run. But are they really one of the best teams in the East?

The Capitals rank seventh in both Corsi (51.92 CF%) and Fenwick (51.81 FF%), but their 19th-place ranking in High-Danger Corsi Against (493 HDCA) indicates they are giving up too many high-quality chances to their opponents.

Washington’s blueline is lacking when you compare it to the other Eastern Conference powerhouses, so given how many high-danger chances they’re allowing and the shaky goaltending from Holtby, I’m reluctant to bet on them coming out of the East.

Betting Analysis

It’s tempting to bet on Washington at +600 given their high-powered offense, but their questionable defense and goaltending makes it too risky. If you’re looking for a true longshot in the East, I’d look at a team with a solid starting goalie such as the Flyers (+1400) behind Carter Hart.

Despite the intriguing longshots, this is shaping up to be a year where betting the favorite is the way to go. The Lightning and Bruins both have a goal differential around plus-50, while the next best team is the Penguins at plus-32.

The Lightning in particular are 21-2-1 in their last 24 games and seem destined for a championship run after getting swept in the first round last season. They have better advanced stats than the Capitals and also have a red-hot netminder in Andrei Vasilevskiy. They are the most complete team and offer the best value at +350 to go all the way.

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