Vancouver Canucks @ Detroit Red Wings Free NHL Pick 2/23/12
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As the only team in the league with 20 or more wins on the season on the road, you know that the Canucks aren’t going to be afraid of coming into Detroit. The bottom line is that they are probably going to have to win a game in this building in the playoffs when push comes to shove, so making a statement by ending the longest home winning streak in NHL history would be tremendous. This is the third game of a six-game roadie for the Northwest Division leaders, who are going to be coasting to no worse than the No. 2 seed in the West as long as they don’t fall off the horse any time in the near future. Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider both are having success this year. Luongo has 25 wins, and when he has been on the bench, Schneider has been doing his job by posting a 2.25 GAA. Luongo was knocked off by the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night, though no team has scored more than three goals against the Canucks in a game since January 15th.
And all of that likely means that Jimmy Howard is going to have to be on point on Thursday night. Howard already has 32 wins on the season, and his GAA has been hovering right about 2.00 all season long. The concern for Detroit in this one is the health of Pavel Datsyuk. Datsyuk is going to be out for the next two weeks or so with a knee injury, and that puts a major crimp in an offense that ranks No. 5 in the league at 3.0 goals per game. In his first game out of the lineup, the Wings scored just one goal in a 3-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, and the hope is that the rest of this offense doesn’t suddenly fall into a bit of a lull at a very bad time to be doing so. Unlike Vancouver, Detroit still has a division that it needs to go and win, and the Red Wings have three teams that are going to be nipping at their heels if they aren’t careful over the course of the last month and a half of the regular season.
Vancouver Canucks @ Detroit Red Wings Pick: It feels like we are backing the road team at Joe Louis Arena quite a bit lately, and this is no exception. We have some issues with the way that this Detroit offense played without Datsyuk, and though Motown has all the confidence in the world that its team isn’t losing seemingly ever again in Hockeytown USA, this isn’t a great spot for the Wings to be in.
Free Hockey Pick: Vancouver Canucks