NHL Picks: Scoring To Tighten Up With Detroit On The Ropes

Sunday, April 17, 2016 1:00 PM GMT

Our NHL handicapper looks to right the ship, as he finds the only trend worth backing in this matchup between Detroit and Tampa Bay. Join uns and profit from his insight and free NHL Pick.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been strong at home to start this series, taking game 2 5-2 behind some nifty play by Tyler Johnson and a few good left hooks. Tampa has taken both games at home as consensus -155 favorites, as the Red Wings failed to score a split on the road. In this game, play returns to Detroit, where the Red Wings should fare much better, and the odds have opened with them favored by -125 at BookMaker. The O/U total in this game has opened at 5, with a slight shade to the over with the NHL odds at -120.

I have picked Detroit in the first two games based on wagering value and return on investment, but they just couldn't get over the hump. Game 2 was tied as late as the 3rd period, so this game was closer than the final score indicated. But, there is a mismatch on a certain line including speedster Tyler Johnson of the Lightning that eventually comes to light. Playoff hockey is a game of attrition, and eventually a slight advantage will become apparent over a long series.

Although Jimmy Howard has been not good to start this series, and has lost four starts in a row, he does have good career numbers against Tampa Bay, putting up a 2.12 goals against average and .929 save percentage. This is much better than his yearly numbers of a 2.80 goals against average and .906 save percentage. If Detroit can play more disciplined defensively at home with playoff energy, I'd expect that Howard's performance will rebound as well.

I spoke of Tampa Bay's Tyler Johnson in my write-up of game 2, as he has taken an unlikely path to the NHL with his diminutive size. Johnson compiled 4 points in game 2, a franchise record for the Lightning. Detroit will need to find a way to neutralize his line at home if they have any chance of making this a series.

Tampa Bay's goalie, Ben Bishop, is definitely pulling his weight thus far, stopping 30 of 32 shots in game 2 for a .938 save percentage. Half of those shots were in the first period as the Red Wings came out very aggressive to start the game.

Tampa Bay's penalty kill has been working overtime as well, and the Red Wings scored on only 1 of 5 power plays in the game. The Red Wings power play has been terrible of late, as they have converted on just 2 of 22 power plays in their last five games. However, Detroit has given up just 2 out of 21 chances on the other side in their last five, so their penalty kill is very efficient right now.

There are some trends coming into this game that are worth taking a look at, as the goalie matchup should be the same, at least on one side, as it has been for the last 14 games. It is unclear whether Detroit will make a change at goalie in this one, inserting Petr Mrazek for Howard. They definitely need to make some changes to expect different results. Anyway, back to the trends. In the last three seasons, 7 out of 9 games played in Detroit have gone under the consensus total. Add to this the fact that Detroit is 5-5 SU against Tampa Bay and we have a single lean worth backing. As I've said before, I believe this matchup is closer to even than most people think, and the moneyline odds are nearly 50/50 here. The value is on the total, so I am taking Under 5 as my Sunday NHL Pick.

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3010341, "sportsbooksIds":[93,1096,169,999996,180,139], "LineTypeId":3, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]
Free NHL Pick: Red Wings Under 5 +110
Best Line Offered: at Heritage