The stakes will be high in D.C. when the Washington Capitals host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.
Caesars Sportsbook is already set up inside Capital One Arena, and Caesars Sportsbook Ontario will be active once the province concludes its expected sports betting launch in April, so these types of matchups are pivotal for fans and bettors alike in both countries.
It’s been a strong season for the Capitals, with nearly 30 wins so far, but the Maple Leafs have already topped that number and are also near the top of their division’s standings. It would be a huge victory for Washington if it can overcome Toronto, but that’s much easier said than done.
The main question remains: can the Capitals take the home win over the Maple Leafs?
Why the Capitals Will Win
This Washington team has proven it can win in high-risk situations.
It proved it just last week when it came back to beat the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-3, on the road.
In less than two minutes, Garnet Hathaway’s two third-period goals helped the Capitals earn their 28th win of the season.
“It’s not just about defense for them,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said of Hathaway, Nic Dowd, and Carl Hagelin, according to The Associated Press. “They do a good job of getting out of the defensive zone and into the offensive zone and generating time, generating chances, and they’re able to score goals.”
Though the Flyers are struggling this season, wins like the one the Capitals had over them can greatly improve a team’s confidence, and that confidence can translate into more wins down the stretch.
Another reason the Capitals could pull out the win? Alex Ovechkin. The 36-year-old veteran paces Washington, leading the team in goals and points and also serving as one of its best assist-producers.
He’s one of the best goal-scorers ever, and he’s been with Washington his entire NHL career, so no matter who the opponent is or what situation the Capitals are facing, he’s always the x-factor when he takes the ice.
“He started strong, and the year he’s had to this point, I don’t think it should completely catch people off guard,” Laviolette said of Ovechkin, according to NHL.com. “You’re talking about somebody who’s made a living at scoring goals and being a leader and helping this franchise and this organization maintain a level of really good play and experience a lot of successes. And he’s at the forefront of that.”
Overall, this is a solid Capitals squad that has proven its worth time and again this season. If Washington can mix its high-risk efficiency with the talent and expertise of Ovechkin, there’s a good chance it will overcome the Maple Leafs and continue its strong season.
Why the Capitals Won’t Win
Just as there are multiple reasons why the Capitals could pull out the win Monday, there is also grounds to believe otherwise.
Washington hasn’t been able to sustain long winning streaks in recent months; it will often win a game or two before dropping the same amount, keeping itself out of a long-term groove as the regular season plods along. While the Capitals have still fielded a successful campaign so far, they haven’t yet proven they can win at a consistent clip.
The reason for that lack of consistency could be due to injury issues. Multiple players returned to practice recently, but forward T.J. Oshie has spent significant time on injured reserve, and his status is still unclear moving forward.
“Obviously, we miss him a lot,” center Nicklas Backstrom said, according to The Washington Post. “I mean, he’s a key player for this team and … always has high energy. So, I mean, we missed him and look forward for him to get back in.”
Plus, the Maple Leafs are simply a good team. Though they recently lost embarrassingly to the Montreal Canadiens and are on a bit of a downslide, the Maple Leafs have proven their worth this season as one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams.
The numbers don’t lie, and Toronto’s win total, which is more than double its number of losses, is evidence enough of the threat it poses foes.
Auston Matthews leads the Maple Leafs with over 30 goals this season, and he’s also near the top of the assists chart, while goalie Jack Campbell has tallied multiple shutouts.
This will be a matchup of two tough teams, and the Capitals will have to be at their best to defeat the Maple Leafs.
Based on all that’s stacked against them, it could be too much to ask.
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