WIIM Staff Playoff Predictions: Detroit Red Wings vs. Tampa Bay Lighting

We are two days away from the first game of the Red Wings' first round playoff matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Wings and the Lightning are two fairly equal teams in terms of their ability, and picking a winner between the two can be difficult, as CBS Sports, ESPN, and NHL.com have all demonstrated by picking the Lightning to win the series.

With everyone in the hockey world making their picks as to which teams will be victorious in the first round of the playoffs, the Winging It In Motown staff has decided to weigh in with their picks, and here are the results:

Jeff Red Wings In 7
SlapshotGoal Red Wings In 7
Josh Red Wings In 5
Graham Red Wings In 7
wingedoctopus Lightning In 7
Kyle Red Wings In 6
Matthew Lightning In 6
uvgt2bkdnme Lightning In 6
J.J. Red Wings In 6

Red Wings In 6

Here is why we (for the most part) picked the Red Wings to win the series:

Jeff: Tampa is probably the best team in the East. If the Wings win, this won't be a short series. The goaltending needs to be top notch and steal a game or two. The kids must take the next step in their playoff careers. They got a taste last season. Now they have to build off that. If this series is going to be won by the Wings, it's going to be the players not named Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg that make the difference.

SlapshotGoal: We have the firepower to score enough goals, and we've seen our defense effectively suppress shots and limit the opposition's scoring chances. Despite Howard and Mrazek both struggling (for different reasons) to be consistently good, we've seen both of them when they're on their game and that tandem could shut down any NHL team. The biggest question is will things come together in time to beat the Lightning. I believe this time will come together and play like we know they can. It won't be easy but the Wings will win this series.

Josh: I'll be optimistic and say Wings in 5. Everyone will bow down and worship Petr Mrazek if that happens.

Graham: I believe that whoever plays goal for the Wings will be better than what Detroit has gotten over the past 6 weeks. I don't necessarily believe in a "switch" that gets turned on, but I do believe the Wings have the players who understand what it takes to win in the playoffs and can elevate their games. But ultimately I believe the Wings will be able to take advantage of a banged-up Tampa blueline and steal a few games early to give them some confidence and momentum, and they'll get the depth scoring that they will desperately need to pull off the upset. It won't be easy and it won't be fun to watch at times, but I get the same sense from this team that I got in 2013 when they played the Ducks in the first round.

wingedoctopus: Mrazek plays okay enough, but Babcock's leash on him is too short. After starting fine, a so-so game puts Howard back in goal, who does terribly, putting the Wings in a big series hole (3-0 or 3-1). They claw their way back into the series impressively as Mrazek gets the reins back but can't quite finish out game 7.

Kyle: Red Wings in six.

Matthew: I think the Red Wings are significantly better than they were at this time last year, but I can't take them in this series. For my money, the Lightning are the best team in the East and will likely be my pick to emerge from the conference. I was a big advocate in avoiding this matchup at all costs, but I also understand that isn't exactly practical when there are two games left in the season and you haven't clinched a playoff spot. Obviously I hope I'm wrong, and you guys can feel free to bury me and what not if I am.

Uvgt2bkdnme: Maturation for the Tampa Bay forwards, Ben Bishop's healthy, and unlike Detroit, they improved their defense with the addition of Anton Stralman. The Lightning can't lose at home, and they have home-ice advantage, which sounds silly considering the 2012 Red Wings, but here we are.

J.J.: Detroit manages to overcome the odds and put the pressure on Bishop, who has himself a bad series. Tampa can't outscore their own mistakes and the experienced Wings take advantage.

Christian: The Red Wings have not been playing great as of late, but they have shown throughout the season that they can beat any team in the NHL. This series will be close and high-scoring, and I think that the Wings come out on top in the end. A strong performance by Nyquist, Tatar, Datsyuk, and Zetterberg propels the team to an early series lead, with Jimmy Howard regaining the starting job to clinch Game 6.

Do you agree with our picks? Let us know in the comments who you think will win this series and why. Remember, you can pick whichever team you want, just do not pick the Lightning.

Let's Go Red Wings!