NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Panthers vs Red Wings (Saturday, March 2)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Panthers vs Red Wings (Saturday, March 2) article feature image

Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Carter Verhaeghe #23 of the Florida Panthers

Panthers vs. Red Wings Odds

Saturday, March 2
3 p.m. ET
Panthers Odds-165
Red Wings Odds+140
Over / Under
-105o / -115u
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute NHL odds here.

Here's everything you need to know about the Florida Panthers vs. Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, March 2 – our expert NHL prediction and pick.

Little Caesars Arena has become one of the league's most exciting atmospheres again as the Wings are closing in on snapping a seven-year playoff drought.

The home crowds are buying into the hype – and for good reason – while Detroit has played to an 18-9-5 mark on home ice this season.

The Red Wings are priced as +140 underdogs Saturday afternoon against the league-leading Panthers, in what could be an opening-round playoff preview.

Here's my Panthers vs. Red Wings prediction and picks.

Florida Panthers

The Panthers do not have a clear need ahead of next week's trade deadline, but we should still see a move or two to help solidify the roster depth for another potentially lengthy playoff run.

They feature a star-studded top six that offers elite talents capable of going head-to-head with any team in the league with Aleksander Barkov, Matthew Tkachuk, Carter Verhaeghe and Sam Reinhart all in top form heading into the stretch.

Their defensive core does a great job of helping to generate in transition while not becoming overexposed at the other end.

The Panthers have generated 3.81 xGF/60 since Jan. 1, which ranks second only to Edmonton in that span. They haven't scored more than three goals in regulation since their nine-goal outburst versus Tampa Bay five games ago, but there's no reason to believe this small offensive lull will continue much longer, especially with the Panthers playing with a completely healthy roster.

Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to get this start after resting Thursday versus the Canadiens. Bobrovsky has shined behind a stellar defensive side this year and has followed up his incredible playoff performance with a +15.4 GSAx and .915 save % in 43 appearances.

Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings are going to be one of the league's most interesting teams to watch in the coming weeks. The possibility of snapping the playoff drought while 35-year-old Patrick Kane displays vintage form has led to some notably raucous home crowds.

From the fan perspective, what the Red Wings are doing is a lovable story. It's becoming evident they're about to start winning games at a lesser clip, though, and that they have been on the favorable side of things from a handicapping perspective. The good news is with an eight-point lead in the wild-card race, they can slow down a bit and still make the playoffs.

Thursday's 5-3 loss was an example of how the Red Wings could tail off. It wasn't a horrific performance, but they saw an opponent fully capitalize on its quality scoring chances. The Wings had won a lot of similar coin-flip-type matchups recently, and they were due to lose that type of game.

Since Jan. 1, the Red Wings have played to a 45.45% expected goal rating, seventh-worst in the NHL. They have played to a 104.43 PDO in that period, though, which ranks first but is not a sustainable mark.

(NHL fans: Check out the latest developments on the launch of North Carolina sports betting, which is set for March 11.)

When we see that kind of sky-high PDO, it's interesting to try to decide what that side is doing differently than others. We know it will come down to earth (look at the Canucks), but what's leading to a high conversion of chances and their goaltender making so many saves?

Detroit has several skaters who look to move the puck east-west and create ultra-dangerous chances on goal with better-than-average offensive zone passing. Most teams also don't have talented finishers and playmakers such as Daniel Sprong, Robby Fabbri and Joe Veleno in the bottom six either. Their power play has also clicked 23.9% of the time and should remain a strength.

Chances are their shooting percentage is still going to trend down in time, but there are some things that the Wings do well that might not be accurately quantified in public expected goals models.

It's harder to see anything the Red Wings are doing defensively that should allow their goaltenders to post the kind of results we have seen recently. They've allowed the 12th-most goals against in the league this season despite a 12th-best team save % of .900.

Alex Lyon has been confirmed as the Red Wings starter. He has played to a +5.3 GSAx and .912 save % across 29 appearances.

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Panthers vs. Red Wings

Betting Pick & Prediction

Considering the Wings' suspect underlying process, it's not surprising to see that the Panthers have moved to a more accurate price of -165 after opening around -145. The Panthers feature arguably the league's most well-rounded roster, and they can ask a lot of questions of the Red Wings' shaky defensive core.

The underlying results suggest the Red Wings are due for regression both in terms of their shooting percentage and save percentage.

They have continually displayed excellent passing in the offensive zone and are rostering better-than-average shooting talent throughout the lineup.

Detroit's defensive play continues to look middling, and the team should start to allow more goals against if Lyon and Reimer continue to come down to earth. Thursday's game versus the Islanders was a testament to that point. I don't think it'll prove to be an outlier.

I think there's value backing the Panthers to score more than 3.5 goals at the BetRivers price of +110, and I would play that down to -110. I also see value betting the game total to go Over 6.5 to -120.

Picks: Panthers Team Total Over 3.5 (+110 at BetRivers, play to -110) | Over 6.5 (-103 at BetRivers, play to -120)

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