NHL Odds: Howard Expected to Start for Detroit Versus Lightning

They may be tied for second place in the Atlantic Division, but the Tampa Bay Lightning (27-18-4) look stronger than the Detroit Red Wings (25-16-8) on paper. They’ll meet on the ice this Wednesday night at the Amalie Arena in Tampa. The puck drops at 8 PM ET on NBCSN.

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The Lightning skate out of the All-Star break with a goal differential of plus-13 on the season, while the Red Wings have been somewhat fortunate at minus-2. Also, it’s expected that back-up goalie Jimmy Howard (.908 save percentage) will start Wednesday over Petr Mrazek (.932 SV%) in the front end of back-to-back games for the Wings. No. 1 netminder Ben Bishop (.926 SV%) is penciled in to start for Tampa Bay after playing in his first career All-Star Game.

Detroit will be without at least one key player in this game: Top defenseman Niklas Kronwall (three goals, 14 assists) was put on long-term injured reserve Monday after having his knee scoped last month. Kronwall leads all Detroit blueliners with 10 power-play assists. Centre Riley Sheehan (seven goals, six assists) is iffy to face Tampa Bay after coming down with an undisclosed illness and missing Monday’s practice.

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