The Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings meet in a rematch from a 3-2 win for the Lightning last week. The Lightning put things on cruise control and things almost got too close for comfort. Detroit netted a late goal to make it a 3-2 game, but with seconds remaining, they didn’t have much room to work with. Louis Domingue was between the pipes for that one and played well enough, but Andrei Vasilevskiy, a Vezina candidate, is the far better option for the Bolts in net.
Vasilevskiy is expected to get the nod in this spot against Jimmy Howard of the Red Wings. Howard was floated around as trade bait at the deadline, but the Wings were only going to pull the trigger if it was an attractive deal. They weren’t giving him away for free, which is what I think some teams out there were hoping for. Detroit has been going with Jonathan Bernier more often lately, so Howard isn’t a lock to stat tonight, though.
Detroit are in a race to the bottom, as fans and management are hoping that they improve their chances of being able to draft Jack Hughes. Fans are a little more open with those thoughts, while management is secretly watching looking for a tank job. The guys on the ice are playing for their contracts, so there isn’t anything as an intentional tank. The Senators don’t have their first-round pick and look at how many games their losing. That’s not a tank, it’s just inept play on the ice.
The Red Wings are tied for 2nd last in the league with the LA Kings. They are 6 points ahead of the Senators for dead last, so there is some time left to drop to the bottom. However, considering how bad Ottawa are, that’s not going to be easy. Nevertheless, the Wings are going to have plenty of ping pong balls in the drum regardless. It’s the luck of the draw, but the odds currently favour the Avalanche. The odds to win the Stanley Cup favour the Lightning, as they’ve torched the competition in the regular season. Head below for our free Lightning vs. Red Wings pick.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Detroit Red Wings Pick
The Lightning are coming off a 6-2 win over the Maple Leafs. They were just going through the motions against the Wild and Red Wings, but a trip to Toronto can get the juices flowing again. The Lightning have had their moments like that this season, and then they immediately turn the energy back up and go on a monster run. Opposing teams are just hoping that they go cold in the playoffs, because that’s what it’s going to take to upset them.
They have far too much talent to overcome if they’re performing at full capacity. The Lightning have been the best offence all season long, and statistically, still rank as the top offensive team in the league. They have averaged 3.8 goals per game through the season and have a defence to help out as well.
It isn’t often a team has the best offence and have a goaltender that is up for the Vezina. Vasilevskiy holds a 2.23 GAA and 0.931 save percentage to add to an impressive arsenal in Tampa. If I have a vote, it’s probably going to Ben Bishop, but Vasilevskiy is worthy as well of winning the award. The Bolts are 4th in the league with 2.6 goals allowed per game. For all of talk about their offence, their effort defensively has been strong as well.
The Wings go into tonight on a three-game losing streak with losses in 11 of their last 12 games. Whether the players are intentionally tanking or not, and the answer is no, they’re certainly doing a find job of it right now. In six of their last eight games, the Wings have scored 2 or less goals.
With their win on Saturday against the Wings, the Lightning advanced to 22-5 in their last 27 meetings. They won and weren’t even totally interested. I think after getting their heads back against Toronto the other night, the Lightning are going to have an easier time in this matchup. I like the Lightning in a 4-1 or 5-2 win on Thursday at Little Caesars Arena.