The second game on a busy Hockey Day in America on Sunday has the Detroit Red Wings visiting the Pittsburgh Penguins on NBC. It is looking more and more like the Red Wings 25-year streak of making the playoffs is going to come to an end this season while the Penguins are battling for second place in the Metropolitan Division. The Red Wings did break a four-game losing streak in this series by winning 6-3 at home last month.
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The Red Wings are playing the second half of a back-to-back as they were home against Washington on Saturday. Detroit is 11-17 on the road this season with 14 games going over the total, 11 going under with 3 pushes.
Detroit is having a very difficult time winning games and facing the pressure of continuing the playoff streak. “We’re not playing bad because we want to play bad,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “That’s been the frustrating part this year. When we’re good, we’re playing really well. But we make it hard for ourselves sometimes. It’s not easy to do that night in and night out, especially with a young team. It’s a tough schedule. It’s tough mentally. It’s tough to be on it all the time. But the more you play and the more time you spend in the league, that’s what you learn, and that’s what you have to get better at.”
Head coach Jeff Blashill told his team that they can’t get caught looking ahead. “I told the guys before practice today that we have to have a singular focus on winning a hockey game,” Blashill said. “That’s it. We are going to get better today and then try to winning a hockey game tomorrow. That is all we are thinking about. I will leave it to other people to worry about stretches.”
The Penguins are playing their third game in four days but they did have Saturday off after playing in Columbus on Friday. The Penguins were 23-6 at home in their first 29 games with 18 games going over the total, 8 going under with 3 pushes.
The Red Wings are simply pathetic on the power play as they are last in the league at just 12%. Detroit scores just 2.4 goals per game which is 24th in the league. It is not that much better on the penalty kill as they are 21st in the league at 79.8%. The Red Wings are 26th in the league, allowing three goals per game.
The Penguins are the top scoring team in the league, averaging 3.5 goals per game. They are 5th in the league on the power play at 21.9%. They are 24th in penalty killing at 79.1% and they are 16th in goals against at 2.8 per game.
The Red Wings are a mess in goal as Jimmy Howard is still out due to injury. Detroit is stuck with Petr Mrazek who has been a massive disappointment this season. He is 12-20 with a 3.10 goals against average. Jared Coreau has been no better at 5-6 with a 3.27 goals against average.
The Penguins have been getting great play from Matt Murray who is 21-8 with a 2.27 goals against average. The backup is Marc-Andre Fleury who is 14-12 with a 3.17 goals against average.
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Pittsburgh has won six of the last ten in this series with the last six going over the total. The Penguins have won the last three at home in this series with each of the three going over the total.
It is hard to make any case for taking Detroit in this game but I am somewhat concerned that it could be Fleury in goal as this would seem to be a good spot for Pittsburgh to play him. I will avoid a side and just take this game over the total.
NHL Odds: Penguins 5, Red Wings 3
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