Blues at Red Wings Picks and NHL Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 2/13/2013
The Central Division title looks like a foregone conclusion in the National Hockey League with as dominant as the Chicago Blackhawks have looked. But really who cares about division titles in hockey? Two other Central Division teams that are likely to have a say on whom comes out of the Western Conference this season meet for the fourth time already this season on Wednesday when St. Louis, the reigning Central champ, visits Detroit.
Many had the Blues pegged as the West’s second-best team behind Vancouver right before the season began, but St. Louis has been a bit uneven in its 6-5-1 start. It is now a 13/2 co-third-favorite at Sportsbook.ag with San Jose to win the West and in a group of three with the Rangers and Sharks at 12/1 to win the Stanley Cup. The Blues haven’t played for the Cup since 1970.
The Red Wings have had an amazing run of success – 21 straight postseasons -- and they are somehow able to keep reloading despite the salary cap having been instituted years ago in the NHL largely because of big-spending Detroit. But no team has better scouting, especially in Europe. The Wings (7-4-1) are getting up there in age at some spots and certainly miss the retired Nicklas Lidstrom, but they once again are contenders. Detroit is 14/1 to win the West and 25/1 to win a 12th Cup.
Blues at Red Wings Betting Story Lines
St. Louis was supposed to be one of the best defensive teams in the league thanks to an excellent 1-2 punch in net in Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott. Those two combined for a league-leading 15 shutouts last season, sharing the Jennings Trophy. But that has hardly been the case in 2013 largely because of Halak’s injury problems. Monday’s 4-1 home loss to the Kings was St. Louis’ fifth straight defeat, all played largely by Elliott. Four of those were at home – all as big favorites -- and the amount of goals the Kings scored was the fewest allowed by the Blues in that stretch.
Elliott wasn’t supposed to start Monday as Halak was activated Sunday from injured reserve. Unfortunately, he tweaked his injured groin in warm-ups, so Elliott was called in and got bombed again. His save percentage is down to .849 and his GAA up to 3.57. He had perhaps the worst game of any goalie this season in Saturday’s 6-5 shootout loss to the Ducks, allowing five goals on 23 shots and then four more on six shots in the shootout. Halak has been good with a 3-0-0 record and 2.10 GAA, but he apparently will now miss another week. On Tuesday afternoon, the Blues recalled goaltender Jake Allen from the AHL.
If Halak were healthy all season, the Blues probably have at least a few more wins as they are No. 4 in goals and No. 1 in power-play percentage. The Blues’ leading point producers are defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk (12 points) and Alex Pietrangelo (11 points; winger Alexander Steen also has 11). Shattenkirk is one of just two regulars with a positive plus/minus (+2).
Detroit’s goaltending duo of Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek has been good of late, allowing just four goals in the past three games, all Detroit wins. Mrazek is only keeping the backup spot warm until Jonas Gustavsson is ready to return from his groin injury. He was hurt on Opening Night against St. Louis.
In a scheduling oddity, the Wings also enter off a game against the Kings, having beaten the Cup champs 3-2 on Sunday on a game-winning goal from Jonathan Ericsson with five seconds left. It was the first time that any team scored a game-winning goal in regulation time after its opponent had tied the score in the final minute of the third period since Oct. 27, 2011. Howard made 45 saves vs. the Kings, his highest total in more than a year. Henrik Zetterberg had two assists in the game and is third in the NHL in points with 18.
The Wings have won two of the three meetings. The clubs opened against one another in St. Louis, and the Blues rolled, 6-0. Rookie Vladimir Tarasenko and Chris Stewart each had two goals as the Blues outshot Detroit 36-14 and went 4-for-5 on the power play. Howard was pulled after Stewart made it 5-0 early in the third. In the Feb. 1 game in Detroit, the Wings won 5-3 behind Zetterberg’s hat trick – his first since 2009 -- and career-high-tying five points. Halak left that game with his injury with St. Louis down 2-0 midway through the first period. Elliott relieved, allowed two goals on 19 shots and hasn’t been the same since. Finally, last Thursday in St. Louis, the Wings started their current three-game winning streak with a 5-1 victory. Mrazek, 20, made his NHL debut in that one in a scheduled night off for Howard and stopped 26 shots.
Blues at Red Wings NHL Betting Odds and Key Trends
BetOnline has the Red Wings listed at xxx with the Blues at xxx. The total sits at xxx. Detroit is 6-5-1 “over/under” this season and 2-4-1 at home. St. Louis is 8-2-2 over/under this year and 3-1-1 on road. The Blues have been dogs only once this year and lost that game 3-2 at Chicago.
The Blues are 1-5 in their last six after scoring two goals or fewer in their previous game. The Red Wings are 5-0 in their last five games after allowing two goals or fewer in their previous game. Detroit is 1-5 in its past six home games vs. a team with a winning road record. The over is 6-0-2 in the Blues’ past eight games. The under is 9-2-2 in Detroit’s past 13 at home. The home team has won seven of the past nine meetings. The over is 3-0-1 in the past four.
Blues at Red Wings Picks and Betting Predictions
I always look for a reason to pick an underdog in NHL games since there’s no point spread, but I can’t find one here. The game is in Detroit, Elliott is playing terrible and who knows what Allen has if he gets the start. Meanwhile, Howard should be in net for Detroit and the Wings’ Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are both playing tremendous hockey. Take the Wings and a rare over.
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