It’s an Original Six matchup between arguably the best team in the league and the hottest team in the league. The Detroit Red Wings and the Boston Bruins haven’t met in the postseason since 1957, the longest postseason drought between any of the Original Six matchups. Regardless, it will still feel like an all-time rivalry between two powerhouse franchises.
The Red Wings are going into the 2014 NHL Playoffs having gone on a 6-2-1 streak, while the Bruins relied on a big 12 game winning streak in March to eventually take the Presidents’ Trophy and run away with the Eastern Conference.
The Red Wings are the only team in the league to have beaten the Bruins three times this season, so don’t count them out. However, despite their stellar push at the end of the season, the Red Wings are a broken team.
They will likely be without defenseman Jonathan Ericsson throughout the first round against the Bruins. The Wings may get star Henrik Zetterberg back, since he’ll finally skate with the team on Tuesday for the first time since the Sochi Olympics, but his condition for the playoffs is still up in the air. Pavel Datsyuk has been ailing all season but has played extended minutes as of late. All that said, the Red Wings play for the postseason. They will show up, and they will make noise.
The Wings are like other all-time great franchises, like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics. They always manage to put up a fight in the postseason no matter what their record was like in the regular season. Look for the Wings to battle to the end of the series, but Detroit fans should understand that this is likely not going to be the year for Lord Stanley in Hockeytown.
The Red Wings will fight, but the Bruins are just too solid. With guys like Patrice Bergeron and Jarome Iginla pressuring the goal constantly, and defenseman Zdeno Chara racking up goals as well, the Wings will have to step up on defense. If they can shut down Chara’s goal scoring and limit the total shots on goal to under 30 for their net-minder, Jimmy Howard, it will give them a decent chance. Howard is 9-6-3 since Jan. 31 when he’s dealing with less than 30 shots.
The Bruins will use an array of scorers to break down the Red Wings, and Chara’s size on both ends of the ice will keep the Red Wings’ scrappy-ness at bay. If the Bruins take control of the front of the net, the Wings will be in big trouble.
If the Red Wings want to take down the mighty Bruins, Datsyuk will have to continue to get healthier, Zetterberg will need to be on the ice and the young players like Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Jurco and Tomas Tatar will have to step up big time. Also, it wouldn’t hurt if Howard careered throughout the playoffs.
It’s not out of the realm of possibilities, but it will need to be a perfect storm of teamwork for the Wings to beat the bruising Bruins in the first round of the 2014 NHL Playoffs.