Detroit Red Wings (A3) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (A2)
Series Price: Tampa Bay -155/Detroit +135
Game 1 Price: Tampa Bay -155 O/U 5
The Detroit Red Wings didn’t play their best down the stretch but still managed to slip into the playoffs. They get a rematch with the Tampa Bay Lightning who took down the Red Wings in seven games in last season’s first round en route to a Stanley Cup Finals appearance. The chances of Tampa Bay repeating a trip to the Finals are dubious as the Bolts are dealing with key absences to captain and pending free agent Steven Stamkos, defenseman Anton Stralman, and Tyler Johnson. Stamkos and Stralman are out indefinitely and Johnson is questionable at best to for Game 1. The good news for Tampa Bay is it should have defenseman Victor Hedman and forwards Nikita Kucherov and Ryan Callahan ready for tonight. I was looking to bet against Tampa Bay in the first round from a series price and game-by-game perspective but I did not see enough consistency from the Red Wings late in the season. Yes, Detroit is the much healthier team entering this series but the Red Wings lost their last two regular season games against Boston and the New York Rangers despite needing wins to guarantee their inclusion in the playoffs. Fortunately for Detroit, they got help to get in from other sources.
The sudden announcement over the weekend by Pavel Datsyuk that he is leaving the team after the playoffs and heading back home to Russia came at a very odd and awkward time with his team about to embark on a playoff drive. I’m not sure it was the right move to make that bit of news known publicly. Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar have been non-factors and must find the back of the net for the Red Wings and lend support to Henrik Zetterberg, Datsyuk and promising rookie center Dylan Larkin.
Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop had a strong season and should have a goaltending edge here over Detroit’s duo of Jimmy Howard/Petr Mrazek who have been inconsistent throughout the season. I think it’s a tough series for Tampa Bay to win but I’ll lean with the Lightning to emerge in seven games.
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