With only one-game on the NHL schedule tonight, hockey takes a backseat to MNF and the ALCS. Only the most hardcore of hockey fans will be tuning in tonight, while the rest will either be watching baseball or football. I will be paying attention to all of the above. In the lone game on the card, the Tampa Bay Lightning travel to the brand new Little Caesars Arena for a matchup with the Detroit Red Wings. For the first time in two decades, the Red Wings missed out on the playoffs in 2016-17. It looked like the Wings first ever season in their new digs was going to be ugly. You don’t want to go into a new complex and put up a lousy season, unless you want empty seats in the arena.
The Wings have nonetheless gotten off to a pretty quick start to the year. They head into tonight with a record of 4-1-0. Their only loss coming against the Stars in Dallas, a 4-2 final. The Red Wings have alternated between Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek in net. Howard has been looking better, with a 1.62 GAA compared to 3.08 for Mrazek. It’s early, so don’t read too much into it.
The truth of the matter is that both of them are streaky. They can look great in stretches and awful in others. The Red Wings will have to make a decision on Mrazek in the offseason. In that regard, it’s a big year for him when it comes to his wallet. Howard isn’t getting any younger either, so it will be interesting to see which direction they go.
The Lightning enter with an identical record of 4-1-0. Steven Stamkos is hoping for a resurgence of sorts in 2017-18. Just like that, nobody wants to talk about Stamkos, it’s all about McDavid and Auston Matthews. Stamkos is alive and well, though, and ended his scoreless drought against the Penguins. His last goal before that came against none other than the Red Wings in November of 2016. He tore his knee shortly after and his season was over. Let’s get straight to our Lightning vs. Red Wings pick below.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Detroit Red Wings Pick
The Lightning took a 5-3 win the last time these two locked horns. The rosters haven’t changed drastically, but the Lightning do have their leader back. While Stamkos only has one goal on the year thus far, he’s been helping in other ways. Stamkos has 6 helpers in just five games, so the offense has benefited greatly with him in the lineup. The offense has been playing well, averaging 4 goals per game. They’ve scored at least 4 goals in four of their first five games. If only they could offer some resistance on the defensive end.
While the Bolts have scored at least 4 goals in four of five games, they’ve also allowed 3 goals in four of five. Ben Bishop was shipped out of town last season, so it’s all Andrei Vasilevskiy’s rodeo now. He’s been less than impressive with a 3.20 GAA and 0.91 save percentage.
The defence must help him out, though, as they’re allowing an average of 35.8 shots on net. The Lightning are allowing 3.20 goals per game, while the Wings are scoring at a rate of 3.40 per game. The Red Wings’ offence has looked good in their last two, scoring 10 goals against the Coyotes and Golden Knights. They need to stop the onslaught on their net as well. Detroit are allowing 34.4 shots per game. The only game they’ve allowed less than 30 shots was against Vegas, an expansion team that doesn’t have much firepower on their roster. The OVER looks like it’s worth a look on Monday night.
PICK: OVER 5.5 (-110)