The Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers will square off on Thursday; in what many NHL fans thought might be a potential Eastern Conference Final. While the Flyers playoff position is secure, the Capitals are merely fighting for their lives.

Thursday is going to be a measuring stick for Washington. Their preseason goals were not only to make the playoffs but to be a Stanley Cup contender. At this point, nobody believes that will be the case but getting wins like this is a start. The only problem is that their without their lead goaltender Tomas Vokoun, they’re playing their fifth straight road game and the Philadelphia Flyers are playing pretty well these days. Other than that, Washington is in great shape.

Thursday, March 22nd

NHL Odds: Flyers -150

The Washington Capitals can win because…

The Flyers are not a good home team. Overall, Philadelphia has 92 points on the season and is just five off from the Eastern Conference lead. Even so, they’ve done most of their damage on the road opposed to at home.

Alex OvechkinOn the year, the Flyers are 23-12-3 on the road compared to 19-11-5 at home. Case in point: A discouraging 2-1 home loss to the Florida Panthers on Monday.

Washington isn’t a great road team but they’ve played well on the road lately. They’ve won four of six on the road, which includes a 5-3 win at Joe Louis Arena on Monday.

Given the situation, laying -150 might be too steep of a price with a team that really shouldn’t be charging a premium for playing at home.

The Philadelphia Flyers can win because…

Ilya Bryzgalov is playing out of his mind. Even though the Flyers are coming off a loss – and have dropped two of three – don’t blame him. Bryzgalov is 8-1-1 in his last 10 starts with four shutouts and a .955 save percentage. He’s allowed just 14 goals in his last 11 outings, which is phenomenal.

By the way, the Flyers are the highest scoring team in the NHL, so when Bryzgalov plays this well, the Flyers aren’t going to lose very often.

Philly tends to struggle with good defensive teams or teams that have a good goaltender. The Capitals don’t have either – especially with Vokoun out nursing a groin injury. Braden Holtby might be in net or it could be Michal Neuvirth, but either way the Flyers should be in good shape to get at least three goals.

The Flyers aren’t a great home team but they’ve won five of their last six at home. With the playoffs quickly approaching, they know they need to take advantage of the rare nights they’ll get to play in front of their audience and Thursday is one of them.

Outlook & NHL betting prediction:

Bryzgalov is on fire right now and he has a good track record against Washington anyways. He’s posted a 2.21 GAA against them in his career and he’s allowed just six goals in three meetings with them this season.

Since laying -150 with the Flyers at home isn’t ideal – especially since they lost at home on Tuesday to the Florida Panthers while laying -155, take the under instead. The Flyers should get the win because Washington’s goaltenders are fairly weak on the road but look for the game to go under as well thanks to Bryzgalov’s stellar play.

NHL Picks: Under