Senators vs. Red Wings Pick – NHL March 31st

The Detroit Red Wings, who were so hot around the mid-way point of the season, now find themselves in a hard place heading into the playoffs. The goaltending has been shaky at best and they aren’t completely sure who they are going to go with in a couple of weeks time. If I have to guess its going to be Jimmy Howard, who has been here before and has more of a pedigree than Peter Mrazek. The Wings had a problem like this back in 1997 and it seemed to play out just fine for them. Mike Vernon went on to start the playoffs and he ended up bringing them their first Stanley Cup in decades. Vernon also went on to be named MVP of the tournament. The same questions are being asked now as they were back then. So while the situation looks dire, I am sure the Wings will be able to figure it out. Right now though defensively it has been tough going for them. Before we even talk seriously about who is going to be starting in net for the Red Wings, how about they just make the playoffs first. Pavel Datsyuk was absent for five games, and the Wings sort of went out on a slide from there. They’re 1-1 since his return on Saturday.

The Wings’ opponents, the Senators, are in an iffier spot, as they are sitting on the outside of the playoff picture at the moment. They are going to need to go on a roll late to make it come to fruition. The Sens sit in 9th place right now, which puts them 3 points behind the Bruins for the final playoff position. I don’t know, but I sure wouldn’t want to be the 1st seed having to play them in the first round, which will presumably be the Canadiens or Rangers. Both of those would yield an Original 6 matchup and what should be an exciting series. The Sens are still very much in the race however, but are going to need to be on point tonight and for the rest of the season. In other words, this is a big game for both teams here tonight.

Ottawa Senators @ Detroit Red Wings

Like I mentioned on twitter a few days ago, the Wings live and die by Datsyuk. Hes healthy and playing well then the entire team is playing well. If he isn’t in the lineup or playing hurt, which I have to assume he is, the Wings do not play well either. He provides multiple dimensions to a hockey game that are not always apparent on the stat sheet. He is the best defensive forward in the NHL, he scores goals, sets up plays, and is exceptional without the puck on his stick. Playing hurt doesn’t equate to the best defensive efforts, and lately the Wings have been in need of that. In their last ten games they’ve allowed on average 3.40 goals per game. Their last three games produced 3.75 goals against. Offensively they been playing well with 2.80 goals a game, but numbers like that are not indicative of a team ready for playoff hockey.

The Senators have been scoring the puck lately for the most part, scoring 3.20 goals over their last ten games. The Wings, though, have had a pretty good history against them scoring the puck. Generally, both teams have enjoyed success offensively against one another. The OVER has consistently hit, and with how the Wings have been playing on the defensive end, it probably will cash in again. In the last ten games the OVER has gone 7-2-1. We will look for another tonight in this important meeting.