NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Red Wings vs. Penguins (Jan. 28)
Emilee Chinn/Getty Images. Pictured: Evgeni Malkin
Red Wings vs. Penguins Odds
|Red Wings Odds||+195|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
The Detroit Red Wings will make a quick trip to Pittsburgh on Friday night to take on a streaking Penguins team.
Pittsburgh comes into this matchup having won six of their last seven games, which has propelled them into second place in the Metropolitan Division with a record of 27-10-6. On the other hand, Detroit has dropped three straight games, and now sits in 5th in the Atlantic Division.
This matchup consists of two teams that are trending in opposite directions, which is the main reason why the Penguins are such large favorites at home.
Can the Red Wings overcome the odds and steal a win on the road, or will Pittsburgh get a bounce back win after taking a loss on Thursday?
The Red Wings Are Struggling
The Detroit Red Wings have hit a rough patch in their season, and their play over their last three games has been far from impressive.
The Wings’ last three losses have come against the Stars, Predators, and Blackhawks, and in that span of time this team has been outscored 17-10. They’ve managed to score four or more goals in two of those three games, but their defense simply hasn’t been able to hold their ground and keep pucks in front of them.
Sadly, that has been an issue for them for a majority of this season.
Entering this matchup, Detroit ranks in the bottom ten in the NHL in Expected Goals Against per 60 minutes (xGA/60) in 5-on-5 with 2.58, a number that certainly needs to come down if they want to remain competitive for the remainder of the season. They’ve also surrendered the seventh-most goals in 5-on-5 situations, further proving that this recent stretch of poor defense isn’t just a fluke.
Some teams can afford to give up numbers like that defensively, but it doesn’t appear that Detroit is one of those teams as they have scored just 80 total goals (16th most) and has 2.31 Expected Goals For per 60 minutes (xGF/60) in 5-on-5.
Alex Nedeljkovic is expected to make the start in net for the Wings. Nedeljkovic has been terrific this season and skates into this game with a .924 save percentage at 5-on-5 and a +6.3 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx).
The Penguins Are White Hot
The Penguins will be in a back-to-back situation of Friday, and the front end of that did not go as expected.
Pittsburgh suffered a 2-1 overtime loss to Seattle on Thursday night, a game in which they were -350 on the money line. It was certainly an unexpected loss, but it does not reflect how this team has played as of late.
Prior to last night’s loss, Pittsburgh was playing some of their best hockey of the season, winning six straight games and outscoring its opponents 27-15 in that stretch.
That level of play has been indicative of the type of season they are having on both ends of the ice. In 5-on-5, this Penguins team is averaging 2.65 xGF/60 and 11.71 High Danger Chance per 60 minutes, two metrics in which they rank within the top-10. They have also been able to find the back of the net 99 times in 5-on-5 situations, tied for the fifth most in the NHL and truly displays how dominant this offensive attack can be.
Defensively, Pittsburgh comes into this one with an xGA/60 of 2.26, and is surrendering an average of just 2.53 goals per contest, two more top-10 metrics leaguewide.
This is one of the most sound squads in the NHL at nearly every level, which is a scary sight for a struggling Red Wings team.
Red Wings vs. Penguins Pick
Pittsburgh has clearly been the better team this season, but given that this is the back end of a back-to-back for them, I think we can see Detroit put some pucks in the back of the net.
Since Tristan Jarry started the game on Thursday, it is likely that the starter for the Penguins on Friday will be Casey DeSmith. DeSmith has been vulnerable in net this season, as in 5-on-5 he has an SV % of .897 and -5.1 GSAx, so a Red Wings team that is averaging 3.33 goals for over their last three games can certainly exploit some of his shortcomings.
However, Nedeljkovic has struggled in net for the Wings as of late, giving up an average of four goals in his last three starts and getting benched on Wednesday.
A Penguins team that is looking to bounce back after a tough loss can have their way against him.
There are many factors in play for this game, which is why I think taking aim at the over is the best play for Friday. Shaky goaltending is a potential storyline in this one, and Detroit has seen a total of at least seven goals in two of their last three games while Pittsburgh has seen at least seven combined goals in four of their last six. I think both of those trends continue in this one.
Pick: Total Over 6.5 (-105)