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Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Preview: Red Wings vs. Bruins

Matchup: Detroit Red Wings vs. Boston Bruins

Season SeriesDetroit wins 3-1

Schedule:

Game 1: Detroit at  Boston, Friday, April 18th; 7:30 PM, NBCSN

Game 2: Detroit at Boston, Sunday, April 20th; 3:00 PM, NBC

Game 3: Boston at Detroit, Tuesday, April 22nd; 7:30 PM, NBCSN

Game 4: Boston at Detroit, Thursday, April 24th; 8:00 PM, NBCSN

*Game 5: Detroit at Boston, Saturday, April 26th; 3:00 PM, NBC

*Game 6: Boston at Detroit, Monday, April 28th; TBD, TBD

*Game 7: Detroit at Boston, Wednesday, April 30th; 8:00 PM, TBD

*If necessary

The Detroit Red Wings were on the cusp of missing the playoffs for the first time in over two decades this season, but were able to use a late season surge to earn their 23rd consecutive playoff berth. The Boston Bruins have been sure of their playoff status for quite some time now. They come into this series with the best record in the NHL and a team that is the favorite to win the Stanley Cup. The Red Wings could be a tough matchup for the Bruins and could be a possible first round upset. To see who will come out on top, here is a breakdown of these two teams head to head.

Offense

The Red Wings have had an offensive outburst to end the regular season, scoring three or more goals in nine of their final ten games. The Red Wings are paced by Gustav Nyquist and Pavel Datsyuk on the offensive end. Nyquist went on an offensive tear to finish the season with 28 goals in not even a complete season. Datsyuk continues to be a premier play maker and is also a threat to score every time he has the puck. The Red Wings also have a compliment of other players who can contribute offensively. Younger players like Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco, and Riley Sheahan have stepped up numerous times this season to contribute offensively.

The Bruins are third in the NHL with a 3.2 goals for average per game. The Bruins offense is paced by Patrice Bergeron and Jarome Iginla who both finished the regular season with 30 goals. The Bruins bring a very balanced offense into this first round matchup. They finished the regular season with two 30 goal scorers, three 20 goal scorers, and three players with at least 15 goals. Depth is the key ally of the Bruins, who will look to use it to exploit the weaknesses on Detroit’s defense.

Advantage: Boston

Defense

It’s no secret that the Red Wings have missed having Niklas Lidstrom on the blue line for the past couple of seasons. The Red Wings have relied heavily on Niklas Kronwall to be the veteran force on the blue line and Danny DeKeyser has emerged as a solid young defenseman for the Red Wings with tons of upside as well. After those two though, the Red Wings lack any real skill or depth at the position. The Red Wings will continue to play without Jonathan Ericsson who is still out after finger surgery and was one of their top three defensemen. Liek the forward position, the Red Wings will lean on younger players such as Jakub Kindl to carry much of the weight on defense. Look for Ryan Sproul and Xavier Ouellet to get some playing time on the blue line and gain a lot of experience against a strong opponent like Boston.

Unlike the Red Wings, Boston boasts depth at all positions, defense included. Led by their captain, Zedeno Chara, Boston will look to try and use their size to shut the Red Wings forwards down. This is probably the weakest point of Boston. If the Red Wings are able to use speed to exploit the size of Boston, they could get behind the defense to cause some trouble. All in all though, Boston’s depth should eventually win out especially on the penalty kill.

Advantage: Boston

Goaltending

The Red Wings used some solid goaltending down the stretch to get into the playoffs, leaning mostly on their starter Jimmy Howard. Howard was not the most consistent goaltender this year though and finished the regular season with a 21-19-6 record, a .910 save percentage, and a 2.66 GAA. His second half was definitely stronger than the first half and he remains the key to a Red Wings victory in this series. Howard will need to steal a couple of games in order for the Red Wings to have a chance at pulling the upset.

On the other end, Boston has received superb goaltending from Tuukka Rask who many believe should be the Vezina Trophy winner this season for best goaltender in the NHL. Rask finished the season with a 36-15-1 record along with a .930 save percentage and a 2.04 GAA. Getting to Rask won’t be easy, so the Red Wings will need to fire multiple shots on him and hope for rebounds and some good bounces. Besides the six goals Rask gave up in November to the Red Wings, he is still the better goaltender in this series.

Advantage: Boston

Coaching

What Mike Babcock was able to do with the Red Wings this season is nothing short of remarkable. Babcock was able to truly show why he is one of the best, if not the best, coaches in the NHL. He was able to take a team where half of the players played in the AHL at some point this season and turn them into a playoff team when many people doubted the streak would continue. Not to mention, Babcock took team Canada to a second consecutive gold medal in Sochi this year.

While Claude Julien is a premier coach in the NHL, some of his success has to be contributed to the depth of the team put in front of him. This is not to take anything away from Julien, but this is merely to say that it would be hard for any one person to replicate the success that Mike Babcock had this season with what was essentially an AHL team.

Advantage: Detroit

The Pick

On paper, the Boston Bruins are a team that should win the Stanley Cup. For the Bruins to fall short of that would be a major failure for their organization. The Bruins are better and deeper at all positions than the Red Wings and have much more experience in the playoffs. For all of those reasons, there is no excuse for them to not win this series. As much as I would like to see the Red Wings win, and will be cheering for them to do so, I just cannot pick them in this series without being biased.

Pick: Boston in 6

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21 Comments

  1. Spelling error in the “Defense” paragraph, “like” is spelled” liek”, Just sayin, because you picked Boston. 😉 I get it though. Interesting how we beat them in the regular season though and without too much difficulty. But as we all know the playoffs are an entirely new season and level of hockey.

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