Tampa Bay Lightning at New Jersey Devils
No team has picked up fewer wins in front of their own fans than the Devils and they welcome the Atlantic Division leaders to Prudential Center tonight. Tampa have maintained that position despite an indifferent December so far but got back to winning ways on Tuesday when highly touted goalie prospect Andrey Vasilevsky made his NHL debut.
The Russian should keep his place between the pipes tonight and will be relishing the chance to shut down a struggling side, Jersey have all in all taken only two of their last thirteen contests. Scott Gomez has had a brief spike replacing injured leading scorer Mike Cammalleri on the top line, however until the second unit with Travis Zajac and Patrik Elias steps up this will continue to be an easy offence to contain. In contrast the Lightning have Nikita Kucherov and Jonathan Drouin mimicking the breakout success of Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat last season as well as a nice spread of production from the blueline. Although they're heavily favoured and were a let down last time I picked them against Washington keep the faith with Tampa Bay at 2.12.
New York Islanders at Detroit Red Wings
Joe Louis Arena has been left frustrated after witnessing three Red Wings shootout losses inside the last ten days that's left them with a 1-6 record when going to the decider. Tied with them on 42 points are the Islanders who improved to 6-0 in the shootout on Monday versus New Jersey so that's a pretty major swing provided by the bonus points. Mike Babcock will likely see a quiet spell for his offence as the bigger problem, the team has scored just four goals in four games and left Jimmy Howard unrewarded for his continued strong efforts in net.
These two clubs rank at opposite ends of the league in hits although most of New York's physicality comes from fourth liners Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck who are 1st and 3rd in the individual stat, often they can disrupt the opposition although I'd expect the Red Wings to be too composed to let the antics affect them when exiting their own zone tonight. Thinking clearly translates to the rest of the action too because the Isles like to play at such a high tempo and if Detroit can maintain their success in the faceoff circle they should be able to keep a lid on proceedings. In my eyes they've been unfortunate of late so take the Red Wings to find a groove and show their class.
Best Bet: Detroit Red Wings to win at 2.20.