Our NHL consultant analyzes the upcoming playoff series between the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning. Can the Red Wings upset the hockey betting odds in this series?
Red Wings and Lightning Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Preview
The Tampa Lightning will begin their quest for their second ever Stanley Cup when they host the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday in the opening game of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series. NHL odds have posted Tampa Bay as a -185 money line favorite to win the series, and Detroit at +150. These Atlantic Division rivals have met four times this season, and the Lightning was 3-1 in those encounters. Since the start of the 2013-2014 NHL campaign, the Lightning has won all four games on home ice versus the Red Wings.
How Detroit can win the Series
The Red Wings will certainly be facing an uphill climb in this series versus an opponent who amassed the most points at home in the NHL this season. Since the Red Wings must overcome the home ice advantage of the Lightning in this series, it’s quite obvious they need to steal at least one game on the road. If they’re able to do so, the Lightning weren’t anywhere near as dominant in away games this season, going a less than impressive 18-23 in that role. On another positive note in that regard, the Red Wings went a very respectable 21-20 on the road.
The other key element that can give the Red Wings a realistic opportunity to win this series will be their power play. Detroit converted on an outstanding 23.8% of their man advantage opportunities this season, and that ranked second in the NHL. They also tallied 70 power play goals which ranked best in the entire league. Putting that number into proper perspective, both Washington and Philadelphia was a distant second with 60 power play goals apiece. If the three-point shot is the great equalizer for the underdog in basketball, then the power play can be equally as effective in hockey, and quite possibly more so.
Lightning dominance at Home a tough Nut to Crack
The Tampa Bay Lightning have gone a superb 32-9 at home this season, and averaged a robust 3.4 goals per game. They were also were the top goal scoring team in the NHL during the regular season. Basically it can be real simple for the Lightning, hold serve at home, and move on. Tampa Bay concluded the regular season by winning the last three, and twelve of their final eighteen games.
The Red Wings have enough talented and experienced players that can make this series more interesting than most would anticipate. You can never underestimate the head coaching ability of Mike Babcock at playoff time, and especially since he’s in a contract year. I don’t see the Lightning reaching the Eastern Conference Finals like many experts are predicting. With that in mind, I’m going to make a small wager on the Red Wings to win this series as one of my NHL picks.
NHL Picks: Play on Detroit +145 at BetOnline