Detroit News predictions: Red Wings vs. Lightning

The Detroit News
Ben Bishop

Ted Kulfan, Gregg Krupa, John Niyo and Bob Wojnowski predict the outcome of the Red Wings’ first-round playoff series against the Lightning.

Ted Kulfan: Tampa Bay isn’t as strong without Steven Stamkos and Anton Stralman. But there’s a lot of depth on the roster, as they’ve shown this season. And there’s goaltender Ben Bishop, who has been a puzzle the Red Wings haven’t been able to solve. The Red Wings are healthier and have played better lately. But there’s a gut feeling they remain just shy of the Lightning’s level. Lightning in seven.

Gregg Krupa: It has been a bit of a whack-a-mole season for the Red Wings: Solve one problem in their performance, another pops up. Fix it, and there is another, or the old one pops up again. Some difficulties generally persist. Defensive coverage is too often inconsistent and goals are too hard to come by. Character is a greater positive than skill, but intensity sometimes eludes them, nonetheless. Lightning in seven.

John Niyo: Tampa Bay’s injuries give Detroit a chance. But this Red Wings team has struggled all season to make good on its chances. Who’s going to raise their level up front? It has to be somebody other than Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg. If not, the defensive lapses in their zone — inevitable given the personnel — will be the difference. Lightning in six.

Bob Wojnowski: Thanks to Lightning injuries, these teams might be closer than ever, separated by four points in the standings and by a Game 7 in last year’s playoffs. Expect a low-scoring series, as long as Jimmy Howard finds a way to match Tampa Bay’s big Ben Bishop. The Wings are doubly motivated by last year’s ouster, and Pavel Datsyuk is capable of a final flurry. In a series in which one turnover or one missed chance could be the difference, the Wings will miss one more chance. Lightning in seven.

Red Wings vs. Lightning: How they match up