NHL Preview – Detroit Red Wings @ Tampa Bay Lightning

NHL Preview – Detroit Red Wings @ Tampa Bay Lightning

12:30am) Detroit Red Wings @ Tampa Bay Lightning (ROUND 1, GAME 7)

Tonight we shift our focus to the final game of the first round of the playoffs. The Sunshine State is the location that will play host to a high stakes game seven of the first round, with the final spot in the second round up for grabs. After going 3-1 down in the series, the Tampa Bay Lightning have drawn it back to 3-3, and will look to win the series in strong fashion as they fend off a challenge from the Detroit Red Wings.

The Tampa Bay Lightning were one of the strongest teams in the regular season and were tipped pre-season to be one of the most dangerous teams in the league which was confirmed by their 5th place finish in the league and 3rd place finish in the East.  With a divisional first round clash against the Detroit Red Wings, it seemed likely that the Bolts had a large chance to advance, but the Red Wings have made it hard for them, originally taking a 3-1 series lead. Whilst home ice advantage hasn’t played a part so much in this series, the Bolts league leading 32 home wins in the regular season is a huge advantage going into this game. They’ll be feeling confident going into game seven coming off a big 5-2 road win on Monday night and without any injury woes. Ben Bishop will likely get the start in net who pieced together a strong 2.32 GAA and .916 SV%, reaffirming his nickname as Big Ben. His goaltending will be pivotal tonight. The Bolts were the best team in divisional battles last season, earning 21 wins from 30.

Detroit Red Wings Hockey is back at the imposing standard that fans have come to enjoy and opposition has come to despise. This young team, one of the youngest in the league on average in fact, has been built incredibly well, and they are certainly going to be one of the league leading teams in the future. Despite bad spells this season, they’ve rightfully earned the 3rd divisional seed in this playoffs, and they’ve shown they can throw it down with the best of them by taking this series to game seven. They’ll have to feel confident after earning two wins from three in Tampa already this series, and that speaks volumes about their respectable 21 wins from 41 on the road this season. Their only injury worry is Johan Franzen, however they’ll be without Nikolas Kronwall who was suspended for one game on Tuesday after a dangerous charging call in game seven. It’s likely the Wings will be rolling with Petr Mrazek in net who made some phenomenal saves in game 6. He’s posted a 1.74 GAA and .926 SV% since being called up, impressive numbers for a rookie. The Wings haven’t been so imposing against divisional opposition this season, only getting 10 victories from 30 tilts.

Playoff Hockey is great; playoff Hockey in game seven is even better, and with the way this series has gone so far, you can expect nothing but a war on ice in this tilt. With that being said, something I noticed in game six is how the two teams played. The Red Wings adopted a smashmouth old school style of Hockey which was headlined by Kronwall’s dirty charge, whereas the Bolts played with speed, skill and finesse. It was a game that the Wings truly got outplayed. That’s what I think will win this series. The absence of Kronwall will be noticeable, even after a game where he played and the Bolts still put up 5 goals on a goalie who was really having a good game. Travelling to Tampa to take on the best home team in the league is no easy task by any standard, but when they’re playing the Hockey that they’ve demonstrated in the last two games, it’s almost impossible to beat them. I like the Bolts to win the series on home ice, setting us up for a mouthwatering round two series against the Canadiens.

Dan Glozier.


Categories: NHL, Preview
Tags: sport

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