NHL Hockey Tuesday: Detroit Red Wings vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Two teams within striking distance of first place in their respective divisions get set to face-off tonight as the Pittsburgh Penguins (17-9-4) play host to the Detroit Red Wings (18-9-1) in one of the best NHL Hockey match-ups for online sportsbook betting on Tuesday.

Though Pittsburgh will once again be without the services of star center Sidney Crosby, who sits out as a precaution with concussion-like symptoms, it’s familiar territory for the Pens who have been without Crosby for most of the season as well as the entire second half of last year. Having played well throughout key injuries to their biggest stars for the past two seasons, Pittsburgh has developed itself into an outstanding defensive team, ranking 3rd in penalty killing, and 10th in goals allowed at just 2.4/game. It’s also impressive that the Pens have remained one of the most potent scoring offenses in the league even without Crosby, averaging 3.0 goals/game (9th in the league), getting scoring help from James Neal (17 goals, 28 points), Evgeni Malkin (10 goals, 28 points) and Jordan Staal (12 goals, 18 points). There are five Pittsburgh players with 9 goals or more through 30 games played, and their ability to rely on many different players to produce points on any given night have given the Pens a distinct advantage especially in the face of the inevitable injuries suffered during the NHL season. Though they’ll also be without their top scoring defenseman and team leader Kris Letang (19 points) for tonight’s game, who remains out of action this week due to a concussion, it’s the ability to adapt to adverse situations that has the Penguins in a good position to contend with the best teams in the league. That has the Penguins geared up for a tough home match-up against a very good and very experience Detroit Red Wings team, who Pittsburgh has dominated as of late winning 7 of the last 9 meetings.

Detroit meanwhile has been setting a blistering pace over the past few weeks, winning 8 games from their last 10, but will get a tough test beginning tonight as they head out on the road to begin a stretch of play that includes 11 games away from Joe Louis Arena in their next 14 played. At 37 points, the Red Wings sit just 3 points out of 1st in the Western Conference Central division, but are clearly one of the best teams in the league with their +27 goal differential (second in the NHL only to Boston’s 35), 7th best power play and 5th best scoring offense. Allowing just 2.2 goals against them this year (good for 5th in the league) Detroit has been solid defensively in front of goalie Jimmy Howard, who himself has been no slouch lately going 9-1-0 with a 1.79 goals against average in his last 10 starts. Howard has been excellent at limiting goal scoring, allowing more than 2 goals just twice over that 10-game stretch, but it’s also been the huge defensive presences of veteran leader Nicklas Lidstrom (20 points, +12 rating), Ian White (13 points, +17 rating) and Niklas Kronwall that have helped to contain opposing offenses and fuel the talented scoring lines of the Red Wings offensive front. Perhaps the lone weakness for the Red Wings this season has been their lackluster performance on the penalty kill, which ranks 22nd in the league at 80.6 percent, but because the Wings get so much scoring in 5-on-5 play, it’s hardly been a noticeable notch against their team this year. There is simply so much offense on tap with Pavel Datsyuk (28 points), Johan Franzen (28 points), Valterri Filppula (25 points), and Nicklas Lidstrom leading the charge, that any opposing defense, regardless of talent-level, inevitably struggles to contain Detroit for a whole 60 minutes. Just one team this year has kept the Red Wings scoreless (the league-leading Minnesota Wild, in a 1-0 contest), and in their last 9 wins (out of 11 total games played), only one team managed to hold them under 4 goals.

The task of slowing down the Detroit offense certainly starts with the talented Pittsburgh Penguins defense, but will also hinge on the performance of Marc-Andre Fleury in net, who has been extremely good this year posting a 15-6-2 record with a 2.23 GAA and a .919 save percentage. Of concern coming in to tonight’s contest however is the fact that Fleury has allowed 3 goals or more in 3 straight games, and has given up a 3-spot in 7 of his last 8 outings. Although he’s 2-1-0 with a 1.63 GAA vs. Detroit since the 2009 Stanley Cup, expectations that Fleury will perform as well as he has historically against the Wings, given recent form, ┬ámay be a tad presumptuous. Therefore, one of the big keys to the game is how the goalie situation breaks down; if Marc-Andre Fleury can find a return to form in tonight’s game even with the absence of Kris Letang looming large, keep on pace with the very effective Jimmy Howard on the Red Wings’ side, and get some help on the offensive side of the game, the Pens will pull out with an 8th win in 10 meetings against Detroit, and send them off to a tough road journey over the next few weeks. However, if Fleury concedes a goal early and Detroit is able to generate scoring pressure throughout the game thereafter, (they are managing a solid 34 shots on goal per contest this season) Jimmy Howard could have the confidence to continue his strong play and get a crucial win away from home against a team that has had their number for the past couple years, including holding a Stanley Cup victory over them.

Betting Lines for Detroit Red Wings at Pittsburgh Penguins at Sportsbetting.ag

Sportsbetting.ag sportsbook is our featured top online sportsbook for Tuesday, and as such will get our wager for tonight’s big showdown between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the visiting Detroit Red Wings. Though they are a solid 6-3-1 in their last 10 games, the continued absences of Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby come at an inopportune time against an even hotter Detroit Red Wings squad, and combined with the fall-off in form for goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, the Pens are a slight underdog at home getting -105 odds to win on the money line while Detroit gets -115 odds. It comes as a bit of a surprise to see Detroit as favorites to win considering their relatively poor form away from home ice (6-7 on the year) and their past history against Pittsburgh, but playing better hockey coming into tonight’s match-up and producing lots of scoring, the Red Wings are well set-up for finding a way to win even if Pittsburgh is able to generate good offensive production against them. In a game between two of the top teams in the NHL, the spread features pretty long odds with Detroit to cover 1.5 goals at +242 odds and Pittsburgh to stay with 1.5 goals at -285, so looking to another favorable option for online sports betting on this game, turn to the over/under at 5.5 goals, as with the high scoring offense of both teams combined with the lack of form for Marc-Andre Fleury, we could easily see a bust out of the over marker within the first two periods of this contest.

Our Pick to Win:

In NHL Hockey, streaks are often very good to follow, and with Detroit looking for its 3rd win in a row after scoring more than 5 goals in the last two outings, the Red Wings are primed well to reverse some recent historical trends against Pittsburgh with a win on the road tonight. Compound that with the much better form of Jimmy Howard in net compared against Marc-Andre Fleury, and we like Detroit to walk away from the Consol Energy Center with a W and a return to .500 on the road this season. Detroit’s veteran leadership should take advantage of the absence of defenseman Kris Letang as well, and utilize their talented group of veteran scorers to pressure Fleury into conceding a number of goals. In a high-shooting affair, Detroit emerges a winner 4-2, banking on Howard to be a rock in goal, and Johan Franzen to lead the scoring line after missing out on goals in the last two high-scoring games for the Wings.

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