NHL Hockey Betting: Tampa Bay Lightning at Detroit Red Wings

NHL Hockey Betting:  Tampa Bay Lightning at Detroit Red Wings

The Detroit Red Wings are hoping that home ice and a goaltender switch will change their luck against the Tampa Bay Lightning. So far the Wings have had little success against the defending Eastern Conference champions leaving them down 2-0 as they get ready for Game Three at the Joe Louis Arena. The Red Wings need any kind of momentum they can muster, having lost four straight games dating back to the end of the regular season. Game Four will be back at this venue on Tuesday and should the Lightning win today the Red Wings will be facing elimination.

In reality, the Wings are fortunate to have even qualified for the playoffs. Had the Boston Bruins not completely imploded down the stretch (3-6-1 to close out the year) the story would have been Detroit’s first year out of the playoffs in over two decades. Given the play of the two teams so far in this series it’s hard to believe that they’re separated by only 4 points in the standings. You can see the qualitative difference, however, in the goal differential for each team–Tampa Bay finished the season +26 while Detroit was -13.

That’s a good transition into the Detroit goaltending situation. Petr Mrazek began the season as starter but went through a slump of a dozen or so games. That brought about a switch back to former starter Jimmy Howard and he was the top netminder during the stretch run and the first two games of this series. Howard’s not been entirely at fault–he’s received little help from Detroit’s defense–but since head coach Jeff Blashill doesn’t seem to have a plan other than ‘panic and overreact’ he’s out and Mrazek is back in. Blashill gets high marks for his work with Detroit’s AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, but hasn’t impressed at the NHL level. He was tinkering with lines before the start of this series–not what you want to see from a coach after an 82 game season to get it right.

Teams leading 2-0 playing Game Three on the road are a 52.8% play in the NHL so it wouldn’t be a major deal for Detroit to steal a win here. If the Lightning stay focused and play like the did in Games One and Two they’ll quickly put the Wings out of their misery.