NHL Odds & Picks for Red Wings vs. Lightning: Bet Detroit to Keep It Close (Feb. 3)

NHL Odds & Picks for Red Wings vs. Lightning: Bet Detroit to Keep It Close (Feb. 3) article feature image
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Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Dylan Larkin.

  • The reigning champions enter this matchup as the biggest favorite in the NHL so far this season.
  • The Lightning are not firing on all cylinders this season, but at least they're not the Red Wings, who are merely bad instead of the worst team in the NHL.
  • Matt Russell breaks down where to find betting value on the massive-underdog Red Wings.

Detroit Red Wings vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Odds


Red Wings +285
Lightning -345
Over/Under 5.5
Time 5:30 p.m. ET
TV NBCSN
Odds as of Wednesday afternoon and via DraftKings.

Tom Brady has delivered the Buccaneers into the Super Bowl in their home stadium in Tampa Bay. The Detroit Lions have traded Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff, signed Anthony Lynn to coordinate Goff’s offense and hired a guy as their head coach who talked about biting kneecaps in his opening media conference, and that comparison still is not the biggest sporting mismatch between these two cities. 

The Detroit Red Wings visit the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night, and it’s the biggest underdog/favorite price split of the season so far, opening with the Wings at +250 and Lightning -300.

That brings the challenge of trying to handicap a game where the underdog is probably not going to win and the favorite is priced at a point that if they lose, you will need to win the three bets you make to make up for that miscue.

Please remember, this is a sport where a 1-1 game could be settled by taking turns on breakaways. Laying -300 is not a viable option in the NHL.

Detroit Red Wings

The assumption going into the season was that the Red Wings were the worst team in the NHL, and if they weren’t, they’re close to it.

While it might be too early to tell, Detroit has shown enough in the first 10 games to be considered not horrendous but merely bad. 

My model has the Red Wings rated at 5% below league average, as they’ve done a decent job in limiting their opponents’ High-Danger Chances (HDC) at even-strength, with just six per game.

The reason Detroit has lost six straight games lies in its special teams. While the Wings have been solid defensively 5-on-5, they are dead last in the NHL on the penalty kill at just 64.5%.

Offensively, while there’s no way to keep up with that poor penalty killing, Detroit’s not even close, converting just 11.8% of their opportunities with the man-advantage. 

If neither team commits a penalty, the Red Wings have shown they can play a defensive style that allows them to keep games close. They’ll need that to be the case against the Lightning.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay hasn’t lit up the scoreboard the way you’d expect it to as the defending Stanley Cup Champions, but consistency has been more their M.O. this season. While the power play hasn’t jumped out to some eye-popping, unsustainable percentage, the Lightning are chugging along at 24%, a rate that’s at a top-five level in a full season. 

After a pair of losses, the Lightning bounced back with back-to-back wins over the Predators. However, looking a little deeper, it was the Preds that deserved better, as they played at even-strength to an Expected Goal differential of 2.99 expected goals for to Tampa’s 2.22.

That means we’ve been waiting four games since a typical TampaBay performance. 


Betting Analysis & Pick

There’s reason to believe the Lightning can take advantage of the Red Wings’ ineffective penalty kill and put away Detroit early, and it would be quite surprising to see the Red Wings snap their losing streak with an outright win over the reigning champions.

That said, there’s a matter of the price here, and it’s an expensive one on the Bolts. 

There’s no value in betting on the Lightning, and betting the Red Wings outright feels like a fools’ errand, but if we think there’s value to the Detroit side, we can use a derivative market to use that overpricing to our advantage.

Maybe the early start time results in a sleepy start for the Lightning and given the Red Wings’ ability to limit great chances, let’s bet on Detroit to stay out of the penalty box just enough that the mismatch there isn’t a backbreaker.

Take Detroit on the puck line at a plus-money price. 

Pick: Red Wings  +1.5 (+100)

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