NHL Picks: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Detroit Redwings Betting Analysis

Dana Lane

Tuesday, March 22, 2016 3:02 PM UTC

Tuesday, Mar. 22, 2016 3:02 PM UTC

NHL pick on The Tampa Bay Lightning to take over the Atlatic Division lead with a victory over Detroit Redwings.

The Tampa Bay Lightning (41-26-5 87 pts) can once again claim the top spot in the Atlantic Division by way of having two more victories than the Florida Panthers, even though they will have the same number of points.  The Detroit Redwings (36-25-11 83 pts) are just one point ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers for the last wild card spot in the East. The Lightning ranked fifth in power ratings while Detroit is 17th. 

These types of games are always interesting aside from the obvious reasons.  Not only are both of these teams fighting for a spot on the playoffs for their chance at getting the Stanlyey Cup, but the perceived better team in the NHL odds, Tampa, has not fared well against Detroit this season losing two of three meetings, a fact that could play in the minds of the Lightning come playoff. Both of the Wings victories came early in the season with Tampa winning the recent meeting, 3-1, last month. 

Big picture for Detroit is they could find themselves out of the playoff if they continue to play .500 hockey as they have over their last 10 games or they could catch the Lightning for second place in the Atlantic, currently four points behind, with tonight being the catalyst.  A loss would drop them six points in back of Tampa. 

This time of year savvy bettors start to follow NHL picks for teams that are better defensively which obviously starts with goaltending. Tampa's Ben Bishop has been spectacular in his last three games going 2-1 with a 1.34 goals against average and a .961 save percentage.  Both of those two wins were shutouts against Arizona and Columbus. It is reasonable to back goaltenders who are playing even better than they have all season in situations with more meaning and Bishop meets that criteria. Ben is playoff ready and worthy of financial backing, especially considering the -115 odds offered at GTbets on their three way line. 

Both Bishop and his back-up Andrei Vasilevskiy are playing well which means that they are getting quality defensive play in front of them. The Lightning's top defensive pairing of Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman has been remarkable. At 6-6, 230, Hedman has been a fantastic shutdown defensemen.  His problem has always been injuries but when healthy can log allot of ice time.  His goal total (6) is not impressive but his passing ability makes him an extremely valuable two way player.  Stralman, like Hedman, eats up quality minutes on the back end while possessing the same puck handling skills.  They make up as good of a defensive pairing as anyone in the league.  Combined they are a +32 on the year.  

Jimmy Howard gets the start for Detroit (10-10-5, 2.76 goals against, .909 save percentage).  No doubt that Howard has played well recently with a 3-1-1 mark to go along with a respectable 2.15 goals against and a .929 save percentage in his last seven games. A closer look at his last three games gives me some pause. Howard has allowed at least three goals in two of his last three starts including allowing four goals to Columbus.  We can't advise to back a goaltender to beat Ben Bishop without a reasonable amount of confidence that they're are on top of their game.

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Free NHL Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning
Best Line Offered: -153 at Pinnacle

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