The only game on the NHL schedule tonight is a showdown between Central Division rivals. Lightning. Red Wings. Let’s take a look at our NHL Daily Predictions.
|Lightning vs Red Wings
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Here are tonight’s starting goaltenders, courtesy of LeftWingLock.
Both the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Detroit Red Wings have started off the year strongly. The Bolts split an opening weekend home-and-home against the Florida Panthers and have since gone on a three-game winning streak. Those three wins have come on home ice against some of the toughest teams in the National Hockey League- namely Washington, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.
Detroit is in a rebuilding year. Their playoff appearance streak is over and there is little hope they will return this season. All the same, they have started off the year the same as Tampa. Detroit boasts a 4-1 record and are looking for their third consecutive win.
Four of the Wings’ five games have been against Western Conference opponents. Their lone game in the East was a 2-1 shootout victory over the Ottawa Senators.
This is only the second time the Wings are playing at home. They opened with a home win over the Wild and have been on the road since.
Alex Killorn roared awake last week against the Pittsburgh Penguins by registering four assists. Steven Stamkos notched his first goal in 11 months in that win. Stamkos is currently riding a five-game point streak, as is Nikita Kucherov.
Kucherov is leading the team in scoring with eight points, tied with second-line center Brayden Point. The Lightning’s scoring depth is something to behold. If they can get some of their bottom-six depth forwards going (Ryan Callahan and J.T. Brown come to mind), then they will be rolling four of the most lethal lines in hockey.
Brown has only played in one game, to be fair. Callahan has five games played without a point.
Callahan’s career has nose-dived since he arrived in Tampa. This is now his fifth season in blue and white, and he has only played 193 games of a possible 333. In his second season as a Bolt he tied his career high with 54 points, but has spent long periods of time mired in scoring droughts and toiling on the fourth line as he is now.
He used to be a palatable threat on the penalty kill to capitalize on mistakes and maybe score a shorty here and there. He registered 12 shorthanded points in seven seasons with the New York Rangers. He has yet to collect one in Tampa.
So now with a $6 million cap hit and a no-movement clause, Callahan’s contract is one of the worst albatrosses in the league.
Detroit’s leading scorer is their top-pair defenseman, Mike Green. Green has eight assists on the year, putting him ahead of Henrik Zetterberg and Anthony Mantha on the team leaderboard by a point. Green was quietly one of the better shooters from the blueline last season, scoring 14 goals, his most since 2009-2010. Granted that is not quite the 31 goal mark he put up in 2008-2009, but only a select number of players in the modern NHL will even come close to the 30 goal mark even as a forward.
Green is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this year and makes $6 million. Expect his name to float around as a potential rental piece for a competing team around February.
I still remember when Mike Green was the most dominant blueliner in the National Hockey League not too long ago with the Washington Capitals. It almost seemed certain that he was destined for a Hall of Fame caliber career. And while his career has been nice, it has not nearly lived up to the expectations of that one season. His name has fallen by the wayside in the discussions of great NHL defensemen, justifiably. It’s a shame. Injuries can derail a career in a heartbeat in the sport of hockey. Just another “what could have been” story.
Trevor Daley, the Red Wings’ big offseason acquisition, notched his first point as a Red Wing Friday night. He assisted Gustav Nyquist’s opening goal that came just 90 seconds into play.
Henrik Zetterberg is now 37 years old. There have been whispers of him retiring in the next year or two, which would leave quite a bit of money on the table from his contract which runs until 2021. He is making the most of his remaining time in the NHL, though, as he exploded for a four-point night against Vegas on Friday.
Zetterberg is still more than capable of chewing up 20 or more minutes a night. Much like the Sedin brothers in Vancouver, it is hard to imagine Zetterberg donning a different sweater. It would appear as though he is a Red Wing for life. That may be by choice but it is more than likely out of necessity. His cap hit is over $6 million.
This is a home-dominated rivalry. The home team has won 12 of the last 15 encounters between these two teams. Amazingly, two of those three road victories came last season, as the Lightning swept the five-game season series against the Wings. Dating back to their 2016 first round matchup in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Bolts have won nine of their last 10 against the Red Wings.
This is a new environment, however. The Detroit Red Wings have officially bid farewell to the Joe Louis Arena and have ushered in a new era of Little Caesars Arena. Considering the Wings are trying to burn their roster to the ground and start again, it may be a while before the new barn sees any playoff action.
While the home team typically comes away with the victory, the Lightning have had the Wings’ number in recent years. Even on the road, it is the Bolts’ game to lose. We’ve enjoyed taking the underdog in recent days in our NHL Daily Predictions, and it has paid off, like Buffalo and Vegas last night.
Prediction: Take the Tampa Bay Lightning to win. Play the under.
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