|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.”
|Jimmy Howard admits Red Wings were ‘pretty lucky’ to beat Bruins||04.18.14 at 11:20 pm ET|
It was the key moment of Game 1.
Jarome Iginla fired a centering pass from the right side boards to Milan Lucic with just over three minutes left in regulation. Lucic got a clean piece of the puck for a redirect on Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard. It appeared to be the perfect pass and perfect chance in a game that had precious few of each.
But instead of the puck finding it’s way past Howard, the Detroit goalie got just enough to flick the puck wide of the goal mouth and out of harm’s way.
“It was a fortunate save,” Howard said. “It was pretty lucky. [Lucic] stuck his stick out and got a lot on it and it sort of just spun off my glove and I was able to get just enough on it. I was pretty lucky.”
The momentum swing didn’t end there. The pendulum, as it often does in a game like Friday night, swung completely the other way leading to a Red Wings rush up the ice. Wings veteran forward Pavel Datsyuk came across the Bruins blue line and, using the collision of Justin Abdelkader and Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton as a screen, fired a shot that beat Tuukka Rask on the far side for the game’s only goal and a 1-0 Detroit win.
“He was by himself there so I’m just thinking a shot there and then he drags it across and releases from our D’s legs so you just try to get the puck in your eyes and I couldn’t,” Rask said of Datsyuk’s shot. “It squeaked by me. Usually he tries to make a pass but I thought he was by himself there. I just couldn’t see it.
“It still went through me so I thought I should have it. But I didn’t see it.”
Every Stanley Cup playoff series got a head start on the Bruins and Red Wings. Now, on Friday night, Patrice Bergeron and the Bruins get their chance to show how ready they are after a league-best 117 points in the regular season.
“It was great to have those games and get in the mode of playoff hockey and watching it all helps to get a focus,” Bergeron said Friday morning after participating in a light optional skate before Friday’s Game 1 at TD Garden. “I was getting antsy just watching, for sure. You want to get out there, you want to get going. It’s nice that it’s finally tonight.
“I’m not rooting for anyone except us right now, so I’m just watching games and, like I said, it helps me getting focused just by watching it and being ready for tonight.”
The biggest break for the Bruins and the Red Wings is that they’ve had a full four days off since the regular season ended on Sunday.
“I think it’s good for everyone, just with the schedule we’ve had after the [Olympic] break,” Bergeron said. “It was pretty crazy so it was good everyone to get ready and now we’re looking forward to it.”
|Shoddy defensive play burns Bruins in loss to Red Wings||10.14.13 at 4:39 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask did something Monday that he hadn’t done all season: allow a second goal.
He also allowed a third in the 3-2 loss to the Red Wings, but Rask wasn’t the issue in Boston’s second defeat this season. The Bruins turned in some shoddy work defensively, giving opportunities to a team that doesn’t need many, and the B’s were burned for it.
“All those three, pretty much, we kind of fell asleep for a second there,” Rask said after the game. “The guy had an extra second and now all of a sudden the puck’s in the net. I’m not blaming myself really, but it’s a game like that where you don’t get that many scoring chances, and once they get them you’d like to be there and stop the puck. They’re also a good team that can score a lot of goals. Tough bounces for us today.”
The first of the three came on a play that can half be chalked up to Pavel Datsyuk being super awesome at hockey and half be chalked up to some uncharacteristic play from Boston’s best players. A Patrice Bergeron giveaway allowed Pavel Datsyuk to bring the puck into the zone and get around Zdeno Chara — who could have stepped up and taken him out of the play — before sending it across to Henrik Zetterberg.
Reilly Smith was giving chase but couldn’t stretch out far enough to get his stuck on the puck, and Zetterberg scored his second goal this season against Bergeron and Chara. For a frame of reference, Bergeron and Chara were both on the ice for just one 5-on-5 goal — a Thomas Vanek tally on Jan. 31 — all of last season.
The Red Wings’ other two goals could have been prevented as well, as Johan Franzen sent a pass in the second period past the sticks of Chris Kelly and Brad Marchand to Stephen Weiss, who beat Rask on the doorstep. Dan Cleary scored on a one-timer right in front of the net — and right in front of Chara.
“We were a little loose in our coverage today, and it resulted in those three goals,” Claude Julien said. “Every game we’ve got things that we need to try and rectify with practice and bring to those players’ attention. That’s what we’ve got to do. Definitely, I thought that we were a little loose defensively, especially on the backcheck. We need to come back a little harder and a little better. Just because you’re a couple of feet away from that guy, doesn’t mean that you have him. There wasn’t full commitment in that.
Through five games, the Bruins are now 3-2-0 on the season. The season is young, but the B’s have at the very least learned that their division has become tougher with Detroit. They also know they need to be better.
“Not awful, not great, not bad,” Rask said when asked how he feels the B’s have played this season. “Every game there’s been some really good things and some letdowns.”
“When you play a team like Detroit, they don’t that many chances,” Julien said. “You’ve just got to give them some and they’ll know what to do with those. That’s what they’re known for, and that’s what they showed today.”
|Here come Pavel Datsyuk and the Red Wings||10.04.13 at 2:01 pm ET|
No matter how you slice it, it should be tougher for the Bruins to win their division this season. The Red Wings are a big part of that.
With realignment bringing Detroit over to the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division, the B’s now have four meetings with a team that has made the playoffs in 22 consecutive seasons, and they’ll have to worry about them (as well as the Canadiens and Maple Leafs) if they want to be atop the standings when all is said and done.
The first of the regular-season meetings will come Saturday night, when Mike Babcock‘s 1-0-0 squad comes to TD Garden.
“I think they’re an elite team,” Claude Julien said Friday. “They always have been, and you have to look at, for example, their third line. When you’ve got a guy like [Daniel] Cleary and [Todd] Bertuzzi on a third line, you know you’ve got some pretty good depth. They’re a good, experienced team.
“They’re a smart team, they play a good, smart game. That will certainly bring an even bigger challenge for all the teams in our conference right now to add them in them. It’s not like it’s a new franchise coming in and breaking the bottom, but it’s a team that’s at the top of the league almost every year. I think it’s good for our game. I think it’s good for our fans to see those teams a little bit more, and an Original Six team is always welcome in the cities that have seen those teams for years.”
While the Red Wings’ presence in the division certainly doesn’t make things easier for the Bruins, the best part about it from a hockey standpoint might be the fact that it also brings two members of the Selke fraternity against one another in Pavel Datsyuk and Patrice Bergeron in what should be some fascinating hockey to watch.
“Obviously he’s a very smart player and tough to play against,” Bergeron said of Datsyuk. “I think it’s going to be a good challenge to play Detroit and a good challenge to play him and his line.”
Datsyuk is a three-time winner of the award, which is given to the best two-way forward in the league annually. Bergeron won it in 2011-12 and just narrowly lost out on winning it again last season.
When Zdeno Chara had the first pick in the All-Star Game fantasy draft two seasons ago, he chose Datsyuk, saying, “I just really admire, personally, the way he plays.”
Datsyuk scored this goal against the B’s earlier that season, and he played a big part in the Red Wings’ 8-2 preseason drubbing of the B’s a couple weeks ago with Bergeron still out of the lineup.
“Two great two-way players,” Julien said of Datsyuk and Bergeron. “You saw Datsyuk in action here the one night when we didn’t have Patrice in the lineup, and you could see the type of damage that he could do. There’s no doubt that he’s an elite player, but we’re fortunate to have Patrice, who we feel is an elite player as well.”
|Atlantic Division scouting report: Red Wings||08.22.13 at 2:43 pm ET|
This season will be the first with the NHL’s realigned conferences and divisions, meaning the days of the Northeast Division are over and the Bruins will have some new rivals in the Atlantic Division. Over the coming days, WEEI.com will look at the Bruins’ divisional opponents, new and old.
We’ll start by looking at the only team in the Atlantic that’s coming over from the old Western Conference, which is the Red Wings. The Bruins will play Detroit four times this season, with two of their first five games of the season coming against the Red Wings.
Under the new format of the NHL, the top three teams from each division make the playoffs, with the two teams with the next-highest point totals getting the final two spots. Detroit shouldn’t worry about grabbing one of those two extra spots, as they figure to contend for one of the top two or three berths in the division.
WHAT THEY ARE
A perennial contender with a lot of skill on offense. They finished 20th in scoring in a shortened season that general managers throughout the league have said was impossible to properly assess, but they finished seventh in the league with 2.92 goals per game in 2011-12 and second with 3.13 goals per game in 2010-11. The additions of Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss should help them move away from last year’s relatively low offensive output and get back near the top of the league in the scoring department.
No team can truly recover from losing Nicklas Lidstrom, which the Wings did prior to last season, but Detroit still finished with 2.29 goals allowed per game in 2013, which was fifth-lowest in the league. They can thank steady defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who has played in every game the last two seasons, and former UMaine goaltender Jimmy Howard for that.
All in all, the Red Wings are a balanced team that shouldn’t expect its very lengthy playoff streak (see below) come to an end any time soon. They should challenge the likes of the Bruins and Canadiens for the top spot in the division in the coming years.
The Red Wings finished third in the Central Division in 2013. In clinching the seven seed, they made the playoffs for the 22nd consecutive season, a span that has seen four Stanley Cup championships for Detroit.
As for the Red Wings’ stay in the playoffs, one can’t help but wonder how it affected the Bruins’ bid for the Stanley Cup. After eliminating the second-seeded Ducks in the conference quarterfinals, Detroit took the eventual champion Blackhawks to the brink of elimination by taking a 3-1 series. The Blackhawks marched back to win the series, with Brent Seabrook notching the dagger in overtime of Game 7 to eliminate the Red Wings.
Before free agency started, the Red Wings gave Pavel Datsyuk a three-year extension. The prize of Detroit’s offseason was Alfredsson, who chose the Red Wings’ group of Swedish players (Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Kronwall, among others) over the Bruins’ perceived better shot at the Stanley Cup. The contract is for $5.5 million, but because he is over 35, the sides were able to structure a team-friendly deal (a la Jarome Iginla with the Bruins) with a $3.5 million cap hit and an additional $2 million for an easily attainable bonus (10 games played).
The Red Wings also brought in Weiss, the longtime Panthers forward, with a five-year, $24.5 million deal. Their biggest loss was forward Valtteri Filppula, who left Detroit in free agency for a big payday with the Lightning in the form of a five-year, $25 million deal.
‘¢ The Red Wings and Bruins have met 579 times, with the Red Wings holding the edge with 249 wins, 234 losses, 95 ties and one overtime loss.
The last time the teams met, Detroit beat the B’s in a shootout the day after Thanksgiving in 2011. The game snapped a 10-game winning streak for the Bruins. Datsyuk scored this goal.
‘¢ Speaking of Datsyuk, he’s super awesome at hockey. It will be a treat for hockey fans to see the three-time Selke winner in the division, with Patrice Bergeron also contending for the award as the league’s top defensive forward each year (he won it 2011-12).
During a playoff game in 2012, Pierre McGuire called David Krejci “Boston’s version of Pavel Datsyuk.” Krejci called Datsyuk the best player in the world, while Zdeno Chara thought highly enough of him to make him his first pick in the 2012 fantasy draft to determine All-Star Game teams.
‘¢ The Red Wings’ 22-season playoff streak is the fifth-longest in the history of the NHL. The longest such streak was by the Bruins, who reached the playoffs in 29 straight seasons from 1967 to 1996.
Detroit’s streak is the longest active one. The next-longest is that of the Sharks, who have made the playoffs in nine straight seasons. The B’s have been in the postseason for the last six seasons, which is tied for the fourth-longest active streak.
‘¢ The presence of the Red Wings in a division with the Bruins, Canadiens and Maple Leafs makes the Atlantic the most Original 6 heavy division with four such teams. The Rangers are in the Metropolitan Division, while the Blackhawks (Central) are now the only Original 6 team in the Western Conference.
|David Krejci on ‘best player in the world’ Pavel Datsyuk: ‘I’m in the third round, and he’s done’||05.13.11 at 1:59 pm ET|
David Krejci deserves high praise for the way he has played of late, as he led the Bruins with eight points in the team’s four-game sweep of the Flyers in the second round. Still, the VS. coverage team for Thursday’s Game 7 between the Red Wings and Sharks may have gotten a little carried away when Pierre McGuire said that Krejci is “Boston’s version of Pavel Datsyuk.”
The differences between the two players can be seen on the stat sheet, of course. Datsyuk has had four seasons with at least 87 points in his nine-year career, while Krejci’s career-high in points came when he notched 73 in 2008-09.
Krejci was watching the game, but said he didn’t hear the “obviously” flattering remark.
“The guys told me about that,” Krejci said Friday. “I didn’t hear it on TV, but I don’t know what to say.”
Krejci himself had some kind words for the Detroit center, noting that he believes Datsyuk is the best hockey player in the world.
“I think he’s a little different player than I am,” the 25-year-old said. “He’s got great hands. I don’t think there is another player like him. He’s the best player in the world with his skills, with the puck moves. He’s just unbelievable. It’s just good to watch him. There is no one like him and there will never be.”
Krejci had difficulty comparing his game to that of Datsyuk’s, but had no problem comparing the B’s to the Wings, who were eliminated Thursday.
“I don’t know,” Krejci said when asked to compare himself to Datsyuk. “I don’t really care. I’m in the third round, and he’s done. It’s not just about skill players or about star players. You’ve got to have a good team, and I think that’s what we have. We have a better team than they do because we’re in the third round. We have a chance to go to the Stanley Cup final. They are done, so it’s different between me and him right now.”