At 93 points and tied with the Boston Bruins, the Detroit Red Wings find themselves in a must win situation in the NHL Eastern Conference playoff race. The Red Wings have lost 3 straight games and are playing their way right out of the post season.
Face-off is set for 7:00 p.m. ET tonight at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Detroit has fallen out of favor with NHL odds makers as the Wild are a -155 betting favorite and the total for the game is 5.5 goals. Although I can definitely see the Wild being the home favorite, the odds are a bit extreme.
Confirmed Since Yesterday...
The Red Wings are ready to break their current losing as Jimmy Howard has been confirmed in net as of yesterday afternoon. There's no confirmation for the Wild, but Devan Dubnyk appears to be the likely candidate in net for Minnesota.
Howard has had a rough time of it as of late, dropping 4 of his last 5 games and the Wings went to Petr Mrazek in net; that didn't work. Howard is back in net and has been an outstanding goalie throughout his career and I expect a big effort from him. For the season, he's 21-13-10 with a 2.43 GAA. It hasn't been a stellar season for Howard, but he's capable of beating any team in the NHL.
The Red Wings will be put to the test as Devan Dubnyk has been simply outstanding this season. For the season, Dubnyk is 35-12-3 with a 2.07 GAA. I was leaning towards Detroit in this game due to their need for a win, but Dubnyk is a difficult goalie to fade. He has an outstanding .938 SV% and is a big reason why the Wild are huge favorites.
Detroit is a team that can score (2.9 goals) and are very efficient on the power play (2nd in the NHL). Star, Pavel Datsyuk, has been plagued by injuries, but when he's been able to play, he's been very effective for the Red Wings and he knows that this is a huge game. In 59 games this season, Datsyuk has 24 goals and 36 assists. He last played on March 29th and in that game, he had 1 goal an 1 assist in a 5-4 loss to the New York Islanders. Look for Datsyuk to be a factor in this game.
The Wild are a team that relies heavily on their defense. They're not a strong offensive squad and are near the bottom where effectiveness in the power play offensively is concerned. They will be hoping that leading scorer, Zach Parise, can lead the way as he was quite effective the last time that these two teams met. In that game, Parise had 2 goals.
Thus far this season, Parise leads the Wild with 30 goals and 28 assists. I look for Parise to put Howard to the test. He has 22 shots on net in his last 5 games to go along with 2 goals.
The logical NHL pick is the Wild as Dubnyk has been fantastic in net and the Detroit has been slumping as of late. I expect the Wings to feel a little urgency in this game and Howard is capable of huge performances; I expect one here.
NHL Pick- Detroit Red Wings +140 at 5Dimes