|Bruins won’t let Henrik Zetterberg distract them from Pavel Datsyuk||04.24.14 at 2:02 pm ET|
Claude Julien thinks he knows.
“In my mind, he’s going to be there tonight,” Julien said.
Zetterberg has not played an NHL game since Feb. 8 and had back surgery on Feb. 21 after playing one Olympic game. He skated on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Justin Abdelkader in Thursday’s morning skate, suggesting he will be in the lineup and play on Detroit’s top line. Babcock did note that he must first be cleared by a doctor.
Babcock matched Datsyuk’s line against David Krejci‘s in Game 3. If he does that again Thursday, it will be interesting for a couple of reasons. For starters, it could potentially make that top line a handful for Krejci’s trio. Having Datsyuk play against a line not centered by Patrice Bergeron is one thing, but Datsyuk and Zetterberg together is a different animal.
For Krejci, his focus won’t change if Zetterberg’s in the lineup. As he sees it, there is one man that absolutely has to be accounted for, and that’s Datsyuk.
“You know what? [Zetterberg] is a good player, but Datsyuk is Datsyuk and we still have to be aware of Datsyuk any time he’s on the ice,” Krejci said.
The Bruins have held Datsuk to one goal on four shots on goal in the first three games of the series. In total, Detroit has scored just two goals through three games.
With Zetterberg skating alongside Datsyuk, Krejci would welcome the challenge of facing such a line. Krejci has led two of the last three postseasons in scoring, but has no points thus far as he has been tasked with keeping Detroit’s offense quiet, especially in Game 3. That’s different from some other series, but it’s working out for Boston.
“It’s kind of fun,” Krejci said. “For most of the year, you’re facing lines that are trying to shut you down and you’re fighting through it. This time, it’s a little bit different. We’re trying to shut their line down. It’s kind of fun. It’s a little bit challenging at times, but I’ve been having lots of fun this series so far.”
If Datsyuk’s line with Zetterberg does play against Krejci’s line, it also means that a player returning from a back injury will have to take regular shifts against Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla — two very physical players — in his first game back.
Asked whether he thought Zetterberg would be up to that physical challenge, Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith laughed.
“Are you serious? Like yeah, obviously I think he can,” Smith said. “I mean, the harder the competition, the better Z is. You look at series before where you have [Ryan] Getzlaf and [Corey] Perry, who are big boys. He just came in and stepped in really well there and then he had to go against [Marian] Hossa and [Jonathan] Toews and just kind of toyed with them.
“He’s an unbelievable player. He’s a top-notch player. Yeah, any first line on any team is going to be tough to come in for your first game, but that’s the type of player he is. He’s a competitor.”
Regardless of which line plays against Datsyuk and Zetterberg, you can bet Zdeno Chara will be on the ice against them. Zetterberg scored two five-on-five goals this season when both Chara and Bergeron were on the ice, which is fairly unheard of.
“They’re very dangerous,” Chara said of Datsyuk and Zetterberg being teamed together. “They play really well together. They know about each other pretty well, even without looking at each other, they know every time where they’re at. It’s a really good line with them being together.”
|Henrik Zetterberg game-time decision for Red Wings in Game 4 vs. Bruins; Daniel Paille out again||at 11:36 am ET|
Zetterberg, who had back surgery in February, skated on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Justin Abdelkader and took turns with the power play in Detroit’s morning skate Thursday.
Todd Bertuzzi will play for the Red Wings, with Mike Babcock choosing to scratch Tomas Jurco to allow the veteran in the lineup. Assuming Zetterberg plays, Joakim Andersson will sit. Daniel Alfredsson remains out but could play Game 5.
The lines in morning skate were:
Zetterberg – Datsyuk – Abdelkader
Franzen – Helm – Nyquist
Bertuzzi – Sheahan – Tatar
Miller – Glendening – Legwand
The Bruins’ morning skate featured the same lineup as in Tuesday’s Game 3 win. Daniel Paille was on the ice, but he did not skate with a line and Claude Julien said afterwards that Paille would not play in Game 4. Julien did say, however, that Paille has been cleared for “a little bit of contact.”
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|Henrik Zetterberg getting closer to returning for Red Wings; Daniel Paille still not cleared for Bruins||04.23.14 at 1:28 pm ET|
Mike Babcock said that the team was letting Zetterberg practice in place of Pavel Datsyuk, whose wife was having a baby. Asked after the skate whether there was any chance that he could play in Thursday’s Game 4 against the Bruins, Datsyuk responded, “I have no idea.”
Zetterberg had back surgery on Feb. 21 and was initially expected to miss the first round. That may still be the case, though Zetterberg said he was ahead of schedule. Both he and Babcock have been relatively tight-lipped about just when he’ll return to Detroit’s lineup.
The Bruins, meanwhile, had an optional practice. Daniel Paille took part in the skate, but Claude Julien said that the player was still not cleared to play. Paille has been skating since last Friday after missing the last game of the regular season with a suspected head injury.
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|Tuukka Rask, Bruins knocked out cold by Red Wings, 6-1||02.11.11 at 9:32 pm ET|
Maybe the Bruins should petition the league against any more home games on Fridays.
The last three haven’t turned out so great. They were blanked 3-0 in a clunker against the Hurricanes on Nov. 26. The time before that was even more painful. Last May 14 fell on a Friday, and so did the Bruins when the Flyers came from behind to eliminate the Bruins with a 4-3 decision in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semis.
The latest Friday night fright was nowhere near as important as the defeat that ended the B’s season, but it was still a mighty punch in the gut – especially if you’re Tuukka Rask, who had the misfortune of playing in both.
With “The Fighter” Mickey Ward on hand for the ceremonial puck drop, Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and two assists and Todd Bertuzzi added a pair of goals as the Red Wings rocked Rask and the Bruins, 6-1, Friday night at TD Garden. The two teams will conclude their home-and-home series in a rematch on Sunday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings, leaders in the Central Division, wasted little time seizing control of the game and making life miserable on Rask. Bertuzzi ripped a shot from the top of the left circle that beat Rask far side just 70 seconds into the first. Danny Cleary made it 2-0 exactly two minutes later when he flipped a shot past Rask from between the circles.
The Bruins rebounded with 2:07 left in the first when David Krejci snapped a 20-game goal drought with his eighth of the season. But the Red Wings put the game away with three goals in the second, capped off by Bertuzzi’s second of the night when Rask misplayed a puck to his right and the forward flipped it off the back of his pads and into the net. The crowd booed Rask early and often as the back-up goalie fell to 4-11-1.
Rask made just 13 saves on 18 shots in 40 minutes before being pulled for Tim Thomas to start the third. University of Maine product Jimmy Howard stopped 25-of-26 shots to improve to 27-10-3 on the season.
|Red Wings pile it on Tuukka Rask in second period||at 8:38 pm ET|
After two periods and a 5-1 Red Wings lead, one thing is certain: Friday is not Tuukka Rask’s night. The B’s goaltender allowed three second-period goals, including Todd Bertuzzi’s second of the night.
Jiri Hidler scored 1:09 into the period, the second time the Red Wings have scored within the first 1:10 of a period. A Henrik Zetterberg backhanded tally on the power made it 4-1, and 24 seconds later, Rask misplayed a puck and Bertuzzie fired it off the netminder and in from behind the net.
Brad marchand was unsuccessful on a couple of opportunities in the period, whiffing early on in a shot in front of the net and getting stopped point-blank by Howard with around seven minutes remaining. The teams have 18 shots apiece.
The Bruins will begin the third shorthanded, as there are 23 seconds remaining on a Nathan Horton slashing penalty.
|Bruins set to play the first of two vs. Red Wings||at 1:33 am ET|
Winners of four of their last five, the Bruins (69 points) will host the Red Wings (70 points) at TD Garden on Friday. It will be the first of two the teams will play against one another in three days, as the Bruins will travel to Detroit to face the Wings for a Sunday matinee.
Starting for Detroit will be former University of Maine goaltender Jimmy Howard, who is one of five goaltenders with 26 wins this season. He was pulled halfway through Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to the Predators after allowing all four Nashville goals. Expect Tuukka Rask to start for the B’s after he didn’t participate in Friday’s optional skate.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The Bruins are 15-10-3 in home games (14-10-3 at TD Garden) and have won three of their last four at the Garden. Their most recent was Wednesday’s high-scoring penalty fest against the Canadiens, an 8-6 victory.
- The Red Wings are 16-8-2 on the road this season. They lost their most recent road game, getting blanked, 3-0, in Nashville on Feb. 5.
- Nathan Horton is coming off the first five-point night of his career, as he had a goal and four assists Wednesday vs. the Habs. His five points were more than he had in his previous 13 contests.
- Henrik Zetterberg is fourth in the NHL in assists with 41. His 57 points rank eighth in the league.
- Brad Marchand has a plus-25 rating on the season, putting him behind only Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros for the league lead. The only other forward in the top five is Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler, whose plus-23 puts him in a tie for fifth.
- The Bruins got a power-play goal from Michael Ryder on Wednesday, but their power play is still struggling to produce. Ryder’s tally was the first strike with a man advantage for the Bruins in six games, and also the first since Marc Savard went down on Jan. 22 in Colorado.
STORLYINES GOING IN
- Despite being second in the Western Conference, the Red Wings haven’t exactly been tearing it up of late. They have lost three of their last four contests and are 5-6-1 over their last 12 games.
- The last three games and the coming two against the Red Wings have made for the Bruins’ most difficult five-game stretch in their schedule, and so far they have to be pleased with how they’ve fared. With slugfest wins over the Stars and Canadiens and a tough 1-0 loss to the Sharks, they are 2-1-0 so far.
- After a lot of fighting on Wednesday, Micky Ward will drop a ceremonial first puck prior to Friday’s game. In other pre-game news, we’ll keep an eye (or ear) on whether the revamped hip-hop warmup music selected by Johnny Boychuk sticks. The team skated out to Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow” rather than Metallica’s cover of “Whiskey in the Jar” on Wednesday.
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