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NHL Betting Picks: Red Wings vs. Predators | Feb. 23
The Red Wings enter this game sitting in the basement of the Central Division. They have a 5-12-3 record and a -25 goal differential, which is second worst in the league. Detroit has played solidly over their last six games, though, as they have a 2-3-1 record in that span. Defensively they have started to pick things up, and they shut down a very solid Panthers squad their last time out, beating them 2-1 for arguably their biggest win of the year. Jonathan Bernier has recorded a save percentage of .913 or better in three of his last four starts and stopped 38 of 39 shots in his last start. He’s the likely (but unconfirmed) starter.
The Predators sit just above the Wings in the standings, entering with a 7-10 record and a -10 goal differential on the season. They are above Detroit in the standings, but they really haven’t been much better. Nashville third-to-last in goals scored per game and has the second-worst penalty kill in the league. As thin an offensive squad as it is, they are also dealing with injury issues, as top center Ryan Johansen and role player Brad Richardson are both on IR. They are coming in off a 4-2 win against Columbus but are 2-5 over their last seven games.
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I considered going with the under at first (5.5 goals), and while I like that bet (both these teams rank in the bottom five in goals scored per game), the Detroit moneyline seemed like the better value. It is tough to even write the words — especially considering the Predators are just three seasons removed from going to the Stanley Cup Final — but the better lineup may belong to Detroit. Nashville is currently without its best center in Johansen, and though he’s never lived up to be a prolific scorer, they don’t have anyone who can handle his minutes or match his output. Detroit hasn’t exactly turned into the Red Wings teams of the late 1990s, but they have limited scoring chances over last season and have given up fewer quality chances against than teams like the Oilers and Maple Leafs through 20 games.
Nashville’s goalies are also a huge issue, as both allow over 2.60 goals per game. Supposed No. 1 Juuse Saros has been terrible, with a save percentage of .882, which has left the Predators with aging vet Pekka Rinne to hold down the fort. It hasn’t gone well as Nashville enters fifth in goals against per game. The Wings have received solid goaltending from Bernier of late and have limited teams to two goals or fewer in five of their last eight starts. The Wings don’t exactly have a ton of high-end scoring, but they roster three solid three lines. And it has started to show in the win column more, with veterans like Vladislav Namestnikov and Valtteri Filppula anchoring their bottom six. Finally, these teams have played twice already, and both games were close as each team won one game. Detroit is far from a world beater, but they have essentially matched what Nashville has put out this year — or even exceeded them in some ways — and likely shouldn’t be this big of a home underdog in this matchup.
The Canadiens offense has dried up a bit, and they have regressed a bit in net as well, but realistically I don’t really expect this team to lose consecutive games to the Senators. The Habs were caught flat-footed in Toronto a few days ago after a week-long rest and then couldn’t recover in time to take the first game of the series versus Ottawa. The Canadiens still rank third in expected goal rate on the year, though, and Ottawa still has given up the second-most scoring chances on the season. After a day’s rest to catch their breath, I expect Montreal to bounce back, and taking the plus money that we get on the puckline cover seems worth our while.
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