The third-seeded NHL Eastern Conference Tampa Bay Lightning will face off against the sixth-seeded Detroit Red Wings in a best-of-seven opening round playoff series. The Lightning finished the regular season with a record of 50-24-8 for 108 points while the Red Wings had a mark of 43-25-14 for 100 points and made the postseason on the last day of the season. Tampa went 3-1 against Detroit this season and outscored them 11-9.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Detroit Red Wings betting preview – bet365 lists Tampa Bay as the favorites to win the series at 5/11 with the Red Wings at 9/5
The Lightning were the top-scoring team in the league this season with 262 goals for a 3.16 goals per game average while the Red Wings ranked 10th at 2.82. Defensively, Tampa allowed 2.51 goals against per outing to rank 12th in the league while Detroit was 15th best at 2.57 goals against. The Lightning power play was ranked 14th in the NHL at 18.8 per cent while the Red Wings were second best at 23.8 per cent. As for the penalty-killing stats, Tampa was tied for seventh best at 83.7 percent while Detroit’s 80.9 per cent ranked them as 17th.
Tampa Bay set a franchise record with their 108 points, but still finished as runners up in the Atlantic Division. For the Red Wings, they’ve now made the postseason for 24 straight years and reached the 100-point mark for the 17th time since the 1992/93 campaign. They finished third place in the Atlantic this season and struggled somewhat down the stretch before clinching their postseason berth.
The key players in this series will be Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, who had the second-most goals in the NHL this season with 43, and the Red Wings’ duo of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Both teams have some fine, young scoring talent, but these three will dictate how the series goes. Tampa Bay can also send out a productive second line with the likes of Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson if Stamkos is kept off the score sheet. Stamkos has now reached the 40-goal mark four times and the second line players all hit 60 points and had a plus-30 rating or better.
Coaching will also be important as the Wings’ Mike Babcock has won the Stanley Cup in three trips to the final and also has a pair of Olympic gold medals with Canada. Tampa coach Jon Cooper was a finalist for the coach-of-the-year award last season and the former lawyer is regarded as one of the league’s best coaching talents. The teams both have better-than-average goaltending as Detroit’s main stopper is Jimmy Howard while the Lightning will go with Ben Bishop. They each have good young backups in case they’re needed with Petr Mrazek of the Red Wings and Tampa’s Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The Red Wings will be without power forward Erik Cole as the left-winger is out for the postseason with a spinal contusion. Left-winger Justin Abdelkader is back in the lineup after suffering a hand injury late in the season and chipped in with 20 goals this year. Young wingers Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist will also be depended on to supply some offense for Detroit. Tampa hopes to have Andrej Sustr and Braydon Coburn in the side after suffering injuries, but Jason Garrison isn’t expected to play in the first round.