The Detroit Red Wings will welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday evening to Little Caesars Arena. The Lightning are hoping to avoid a letdown against the lowly Red Wings after a tight win against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden last night. It didn’t look like it was going to be a close game in the early stages of the contest, with the Lightning getting out to a 3-0 lead.
The big lead evaporated, but the Bruins couldn’t get closer than a goal. That’s a big win for the Lightning, as they were able to respond after losing at home against the Bruins on Tuesday. The goal scorers came out to play at TD Garden, though, as the Lightning scored 5 goals for a 5-3 win.
It was a must-win situation for the Lightning if they want to stay in the Atlantic Division race. They still have a mountain to climb if they’re going to get close, though. The Lightning are 7 points behind the Bruins at 43-20-5 and 91 points. Beyond winning the division, which often is meaningless in the playoffs, it’s a positive sign to see the Lightning show up against another heavyweight in the Eastern Conference.
The Bruins might be a bit too good to catch with only a month left in the regular season, but we’ll see how it goes. Tampa nabbed just their third win in the last eight games, so the Bruins were able to generate a gap during that time. The win for the Lightning merely puts a dent into the deficit. But again, as long as the Lightning are playing confidently, it’s more important than winning the Atlantic.
Tampa didn’t stop at all in the regular season last season. They were hot from October until the first-round against the Columbus Blue Jackets. That’s when they finally cooled off and regressed. The Lightning have had a more normal regular season with variance hitting them at times.
Ideally they’re hoping that they get the negative variance out of the way before the playoffs in April. The Lightning lost five of six games before beating the Canadiens and Bruins, so we’ll see if that’s the last of their woes. Head below for our free Lightning vs. Red Wings pick.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Detroit Red Wings Betting Odds:
Lightning vs. Red Wings Prediction:
The Lightning have won three of their last four games, with their only loss the 2-1 game against the Bruins in Tampa. They weren’t looking too hot during a four-game losing streak, they’ve looked better of late. What the Lightning can’t do is overlook the Red Wings on Sunday. They’re on a back-to-back following a giant win in Boston against the Bruins.
That might be the most dangerous aspect of this game for the Lightning. If this game was being played on paper, then the final score would be a blowout. In their most recent meeting against the Red Wings this season, they had to work for a 2-1 win on December 29 in Tampa.
The Red Wings have been a dysfunctional squad this season and that’s putting it mildly. They go into Sunday with a record of 16-48-5 and 37 points. This nightmarish season is fortunately almost done for the Red Wings and they can go back to the drawing board in the summer. Whether Jeff Blashill will be included in those plans remains to be seen. I don’t really know what Blashill could have done this season with this roster, so let’s not be quick to put the blame on him.
There isn’t a coach in the NHL that would have them winning too many games either. In any event, Steve Yzerman may go in another direction with a plethora of available coaches available on the market. If Gerard Gallant wants to coach in Detroit, it’s unlikely that Yzerman will ignore him. Blashill’s team has been the worst in the league offensively and defensively, with only 1.97 goals scored per game and 3.71 goals against.
Detroit has gotten raked across the coals with just 1.7 goals scored per game in their last ten outings. They’ve also allowed 3.7 goals per game to stay consistent with how bad their defence has been throughout the season. They are coming off a 2-1 win against the Blackhawks on Friday, though. The last time the Red Wings had a good win, they beat the Canadiens and lost in their next outing against the Islanders, 4-1.
Early January is the first time that the Red Wings have recorded consecutive wins. Since mid-November, the Red Wings have won back-to-back games only twice. They might be able to catch the Lightning napping for a period after a win in Boston last night, but don’t expect the Red Wings to be able to take advantage. If the Lightning bring the same effort as last night this game won’t be close, though. It might be a more competitive game than the rosters suggest, but I still like a 4-2 or 5-2 win for the visitors at Little Caesars Arena on Sunday.