Hockey Today June 2

Hockey Today June 2

Monday's best NHL bet
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Pittsburgh at Detroit -230,5

A few weeks from now, the Pittsburgh Penguins may look back at Saturday’s Game 4 and think about what might have been. The Pens had numerous powerplay opportunities to put the Red Wings on the run and couldn’t convert a huge 5-on-3 in the third period. Now, Pittsburgh is fresh out of mulligans.

The Red Wings are a poised bunch. They rarely panic and have developed a fantastic offense that preaches patience and puck-control to go along with a rock-steady group of blueliners that has frustrated the young Pens at every turn.

If nothing else, this series will serve as a learning experience for Pittsburgh moving forward, but right now this club is overmatched in nearly every capacity. The only hope the Pens have at this point is to convert a couple power plays early in the game, though this unit with the man advantage isn’t what it was earlier in the playoffs.

A lot of Pittsburgh’s struggles have more to do with Detroit’s defense than much else, but Sidney Crosby isn’t generating as much offense from the sideboards as he normally does and Sergei Gonchar needs to be better at the point. Plus, as you’ve already heard a million times now, Evgeni Malkin is struggling.

One main difference between these teams is that Pittsburgh can’t win if their three best players aren’t dominant – Detroit can. The Wings have so many solid contributors and play such a disciplined system that Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Co. don’t have to be amazing every single night.   

Detroit isn’t the kind of team that’s going to let this 3-1 lead slip.

Pick: Under

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Hockey Today

Pittsburgh at Detroit (8 p.m. EDT). The Red Wings will get the first of three potential chances to hoist the Cup for an 11th time.

HOLMSTROM RETURNS

After sitting out Game 4 on Saturday night, top-line forward Tomas Holmstrom is set to return to the Detroit lineup for what could be the Cup clincher on Monday night. Holmstrom was injured in the third period of the Red Wings' loss in Game 3 when he was knocked into the Penguins net by Pittsburgh defenseman Hal Gill. Holmstrom skipped practice on Friday and gingerly skated with his teammates on Saturday morning.

PUT ON ICE

Chris Chelios, the player with the most playoff experience in NHL history will not likely add to his record-breaking total of postseason games unless Detroit has an injury on the blue line. Chelios was replaced by Andreas Lilja in the final game of the Western Conference finals, and Red Wings coach Mike Babcock doesn't sound like he plans to put the 46-year-old defenseman back on the ice.

NEW DEAL

Mike Babcock and the Detroit Red Wings expect to complete a new deal shortly after the season to keep the coach under contract next season and beyond. Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said the new contract was almost completed the day before the first round started, but both sides decided to put it on hold until the playoffs ended so that the story didn't distract from the team's quest for the Cup.

SIGNED

Goaltender Jhonas Enroth signed a three-year entry level contract with the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. The Sabres' second-round pick in the 2006 NHL draft is coming off a solid year in which he helped Sweden win a silver medal at the World Junior Championships in January.

SPEAKING

``I put it this way, we're in a Peewee tournament right now and we're in the quarterfinals. We have to win the next three games and it's do or die. If you want to win the finals, you have to win the three games and that's where we are right now.'' - Pittsburgh forward Max Talbot said Sunday. The Penguins are down 3-1 to the Red Wings and need to win three straight for to hoist the Stanley Cup as champions.

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Monday NHL Gameday

The Red Wings began their postseason run with a win over the Predators back on April 20, and they can end it with a Cup-clinching victory over the Penguins on Monday night.

Detroit has actually made it all look pretty easy during the playoffs. The jumped out to a 2-0 lead in that set versus the Predators, dropped a couple of contests, and then won the series 4-2. They then swept away the Avalanche in Round 2, and they built a big 3-0 lead on Dallas in the third round (eventually needing six games to advance to the final).

And the Wings have stayed dominant in the Stanley Cup final. Detroit opened the series with back-to-back shutouts at home in Games 1 and 2, then dropped a 3-2 squeaker in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night before coming back with a win in Game 4 on Saturday.

The Pens actually opened the scoring at home on Saturday night, as Marian Hossa potted his 10th goal of the playoffs less than three minutes into the first period. That lead proved to be short-lived, however, as Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom netted his third marker of the postseason just four minutes later to tie up the contest at one apiece.

Neither team managed to score in the second period, but Jiri Hudler picked up a goal two minutes into the third period that put Detroit ahead for good. Red Wings netminder Chris Osgood stopped 22 of 23 Pittsburgh shots in the victory. Penguins counterpart Marc-Andre Fleury had a busier night, blocking 28 of the 30 Detroit shots in the defeat.

Pens superstar forward Sidney Crosby assisted on Hossa's goal in the first period on Saturday night, and he now leads the NHL in postseason scoring. Teammate Evgeni Malkin, however, was held off the night's scoresheet for the fourth consecutive contest.

The Red Wings will now look to close out this series with a win at home in Game 5 on Monday night (with puck drop at 8:00pm ET). And how well has Detroit fared in its own building so far during the playoffs? They were 3-0 at Joe Louis Arena against Nashville, 2-0 against Colorado, 2-1 against Dallas, and of course 2-0 so far against the Penguins.

The Penguins won each of their first three road games in the playoffs (two versus the Senators, one versus the Rangers), but since then they've managed to go just 1-4 away from Mellon Arena (that one other win came against the Flyers in Round 3). The Penguins were outscored 4-0 and 3-0 on the road in the first two meetings of this series.

The Red Wings are expected to have Tomas Holmstrom back in the lineup on Monday night; the forward missed Saturday's contest with a sore hamstring. Holmstrom has four goals and eight assists for 12 points in 19 playoff games this spring.

The oddsmakers don't think the Stanley Cup final will stretch beyond Monday night - they opened the Red Wings as -240 home favorites for Game 5 (with the total set at 5). If the Penguins are able to stave off elimination on Monday night they'll force a Game 6 in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night. A Game 7 would be contested in Detroit on Saturday.

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Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Detroit Red Wings

The Detroit Red Wings will be looking to wrap up the Stanley Cup final on Monday night when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins at Joe Louis Arena.

Oddsmakers currently have the Red Wings listed as 245-moneyline favorites versus the Penguins, while the game's total is sitting at 5.

The Red Wings scored early in the third period and held on for a 2-1 victory and a commanding 3-1 lead in the Stanley Cup final on Saturday.

The Red Wings won the game as a -110 pick'em, while the three goals fell UNDER the posted over/under (5).

Jiri Hudler scored the game-winning goal and Nicklas Lidstrom added the other marker for the Red Wings. Chris Osgood made 22 saves for the win.

Marian Hossa tallied on the power play for the Penguins. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 28-of-30 shots in the loss.

Team records:
Pittsburgh: 47-27-8
Detroit: 54-21-7

Pittsburgh most recently:
When playing on Monday are 5-5
Before playing Ottawa are 4-6
After playing Detroit are 4-4-1
After a loss are 9-1

Detroit most recently:
When playing on Monday are 8-2
Before playing Edmonton are 5-5
After playing Pittsburgh are 5-5-1
After a win are 8-2

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Pittsburgh's last 6 games when playing Detroit
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Pittsburgh's last 5 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 8 of Pittsburgh's last 10 games when playing on the road against Detroit
Pittsburgh is 13-5 SU in its last 18 games
Detroit is 12-1 SU in its last 13 games at home
Detroit is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing Pittsburgh
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Detroit's last 6 games when playing Pittsburgh
Detroit is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing at home against Pittsburgh

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NHL LONG SHEET

PITTSBURGH (60-32-0-8, 128 pts.) at DETROIT (69-26-0-7, 145 pts.)

There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

Head-to-Head Series History
DETROIT is 5-1 (+4.0 Units) against the spread versus PITTSBURGH over the last 3 seasons
DETROIT is 5-1-0 straight up against PITTSBURGH over the last 3 seasons
5 of 5 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Under=+5.2 Units)

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NHL SHORT SHEET

Stanley Cup Finals
Game Five
Red Wings Lead, 3-1
Pittsburgh at Detroit, 8:05 ET

Pittsburgh:
0-3 SU at Detroit
5-0 Over Away off home loss by 1 goal

Detroit:
93-25 SU at home off BB Unders
66-21 SU off a road win

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Trend Sheet

PITTSBURGH vs. DETROIT
Pittsburgh is 1-5 SU in its last 6 games when playing on the road against Detroit
The total has gone UNDER in 8 of Pittsburgh's last 10 games when playing on the road against Detroit
Detroit is 13-3 SU in its last 16 games
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Detroit's last 7 games

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