The Columbus Blue Jackets and Washington Capitals both come into this game having lost three out of their last four contests.
The Caps come into Jacket territory looking for a much-needed two points before heading into the All-Star break as they can feel the Buffalo Sabres breathing on the back of their necks in the standings.
Washington is just two points ahead of the Sabres and one point ahead of the Penguins in the first Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, and a game like this against a much weaker opponent is what can be considered a “must-win”.
Find out my best bet in my free NHL betting picks and predictions for the Blue Jackets vs. Capitals on January 31.
Capitals vs Blue Jackets best odds
Capitals vs Blue Jackets picks and predictions
The Washington Capitals have absolutely owned the Columbus Blue Jackets in recent history, winning both meetings this season by a combined score of 7-2. Those two meetings came in the month of January when they played in Columbus on the fifth (6-2 Caps) and in Washington D.C. on the eighth (1-0 Caps).
Both teams are dealing with some injury issues right now, but the Blue Jackets quite literally have a laundry list of players that won’t be available tonight, including Zach Werenski and Jakub Voracek who stand out the most. Columbus isn’t necessarily playing for much right now as it knows its destiny for this season doesn’t include making the playoffs.
The Capitals on the other hand are hoping to do whatever they can to get healthy for another playoff run, but they can’t let their lead in the standings slip away.
They should be pretty well rested coming into this contest since they have only played one game in the last five days, but the key to this game for the Caps is to be the more desperate team. They need to play with more urgency and find ways to put the puck in since they have only scored 11 goals in their last five.
That being said, Washington has a whole lot more to play for than the Blue Jackets do and I know it will want to go into the break feeling good about itself. I’m expecting a strong bounce-back game from Darcy Kuemper and I think the Caps win this in regulation.
My best bet: Capitals 3-way moneyline (-135 at BetMGM)
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Capitals vs Blue Jackets moneyline analysis
Even though a lot of the negativity has been out of its control, Columbus has been a complete mess this season. It enters this game with the fourth-lowest scoring offense, averaging just 2.54 goals per game as well as the third-worst defensive team in the league, giving up 3.86 gpg.
The Capitals haven’t been lighting up the score sheet themselves lately, but they have been a pretty strong defensive team this season thanks to Darcy Kuemper. He boasts a .915 SV% and 2.62 GAA along with a +4.1 goals saved above expected.
The difference to me in this game is going to be special teams. The Jackets’ special teams are horrendous. They have the fifth-worst power play and the 21st-ranked penalty kill. Washington needs to take advantage of special teams.
The Caps have the edge in nearly every aspect of this matchup and have dominated the previous battles. This should be their game.
Capitals vs Blue Jackets Over/Under analysis
Washington and Columbus have been struggling a bit lately when it comes to offensive production. The Caps have scored seven goals in their last four games and the Jackets have scored nine goals in the same timeframe.
These aren’t very high-scoring teams at 5-on-5. Washington is expected to score 2.65 goals at 5-on-5, while the Blue Jackets own the league’s fourth-worst at 2.28 xGF/60.
Two out of the last three games for both of these teams have gone Under and with the lack of production on both sides along with the offensive players that are missing due to injury, I would think the Under is the better option for this contest.
Capitals vs Blue Jackets betting trend to know
The Capitals are 6-1 in the last seven meetings against Columbus. Find more NHL betting trends for Capitals vs Blue Jackets.
Capitals vs Blue Jackets game info
|Location:||Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH|
|Date:||Tuesday, January 31, 2023|
|Puck drop:||7:00 p.m. ET|
|TV:||NBCSWA, Bally Sports OH|