Sharks at Red Wings Picks and NHL Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 4/11/2013
Suddenly, this game really, really matters for both teams involved. That’s what happens as the end of the season nears and the standings are impossibly tight. The Sharks aren’t going to win their division because Anaheim has been so strong. They are, however, in a tight battle with several teams, including hated divisional rivals the Kings, for the coveted fourth spot in the standings. Finishing there means home-ice advantage in at least the first round of the playoffs, and that is very significant in the NHL. As of Wednesday the team sat in fifth, a point behind the Kings and one ahead of Minnesota and St. Louis. They have nine games remaining, so getting hot now could pay real dividends.
The Red Wings are in a very unfamiliar situation for their organization — fighting for their playoff lives. They have been in the playoffs every year since 1990. Heck, last year was the first time since 1991 that they even finished as bad as third in their division. On Wednesday, though, they found themselves clinging to the final playoff spot just two points ahead of both Dallas and Columbus and three ahead of Phoenix. They aren’t playing inspired hockey at all right now, and they really need to rediscover their mojo with nine games remaining if they don’t want their incredibly impressive postseason streak to end.
Sharks at Red Wings Betting storylines
The Sharks are a talented team, and they can play very well when they are in form. Their biggest flaw, though, is that they are incredibly streaky. They opened the season with seven straight wins and looked invincible. Then they lost their next seven and often looked incompetent. They had another seven-game winning streak end last week but have lost both games played since then. It’s like they are a rolling stone — once they get moving in a direction there is no stopping them. In the playoffs a bad streak is going to be fatal, so this team really can’t afford to maintain this mentality. A win here would end this losing streak before it really got established and could have a big impact on the mindset of the team at a crucial time.
Even more significant for the Sharks than the end of their losing streak is that Antti Niemi gets back in form. The Sharks have hitched their wagon to their goaltender at least as much as any team in the league. He has started the last 16 games and 25 of the last 27. His numbers have been more than solid enough to justify the action — 2.20 GAA and .922 save percentage. He has allowed eight goals in regulation in his last two games, though, and lost a shootout as well. In contrast, he had allowed just 10 goals over the previous seven-game winning streak. The Sharks need Niemi to be exceptionally strong if they want to do any playoff damage, so they will be very hopeful that he can get back on track here. There are reasons to be optimistic. Back in the middle of March he allowed 10 goals in two games and looked terrible, but then he bounced back to win eight of his next nine and allow just two goals in the loss.
While Niemi has been mostly strong with brief periods of struggle, Detroit’s Jimmy Howard has been mostly acceptable with extended periods of frustrating play. There are several things contributing to the issues the team is having right now, but goaltending certainly isn’t helping. Howard has started 11 of the last 12 and is clearly the man going forward. He is not the kind of goalie who will steal a game, though — or at least he hasn’t been this year. Luckily for Detroit, though, he’s not the liability in this one that he can be at times — San Jose’s success this year has come despite sitting just 26th in scoring in the league with 2.4 goals per game, which is right on Howard’s GAA for the season. There are certainly teams that are better at making life miserable for goalies, so Howard isn’t likely to be the difference in this one. In his lone appearance against the Sharks this year he allowed two goals in a solid performance and was far from the reason his team lost, 2-0.
Sharks at Red Wings NHL Odds and Betting Trends
BookMaker has opened Detroit as a -120 home favorite with the Sharks coming in at +100. The total has been posted at five.
The Sharks have gone “under” the total in eight of their last 10 against Central Division foes. The Sharks struggle badly on the road (6-11-2), and that could be an issue here for total bettors — the under has gone 8-0-1 in the last nine home games the Wings have played against teams with road records of .400 or less. The home team has won four of the last five meetings in this rivalry. The under is 3-0-1 in the last four meetings, but the “over” is 7-2 in the last nine games played in Detroit.
Sharks at Red Wings Picks and Betting Predictions
Some trends work against the Sharks here, but they are still the pick, and they provide solid value at the price. The Wings have just one regulation win in their last six, and they are playing far from their best hockey. Their deficiencies — goaltending, leadership, depth — are really becoming clear, and even playing at home hasn’t been a boost for them recently. The Sharks are by far the more focused team, and their two straight losses have yet to be an indicator of real issues. I look for Niemi to bounce back and the Sharks to out-hustle and outplay Detroit en route to the victory.
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