Bruins help selves in a way with Wings loss

Bruins help selves in a way with Wings loss
April 3, 2014, 12:45 pm
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The Bruins angled for another glimpse Wednesday night, and once again walked away knowing exactly why the Detroit Red Wings would be a problematic matchup in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The bad news: the B’s dropped a 3-2 decision to the Winged Wheels after breaking down in the third period versus the skill and speed level of young players like Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Jurco and Tomas Tatar. The Bruins finished the year with a 2-5-1 record this season against their divisional foes in Detroit and Montreal, and left the door open for some tough series in the Atlantic Division portion of the playoffs.  

University of Maine product Nyquist blowing past a flat-footed Zdeno Chara before roofing a shot over Tuukka Rask’s glove for the third period game-winner was exactly the kind of nightmare scenario Boston is actively looking to avoid.

Adding a healthy Pavel Datsyuk -- who just missed returning to Wednesday’s game -- and possibly Henrik Zetterberg to the mix along with Daniel Alfredsson will only make the Red Wings stronger, and therefore an even more unappealing first round foe for the Black and Gold.

It was a bit of a shock to the system for a Bruins team that had Detroit on the ropes for two plus periods in the game, but instead ended up suffering their first regulation loss in over a month dating back to a March 1 defeat to the Washington Capitals. That means their first taste of real defeat in 33 days.

“I think we let our guard down in the second half of the third, and we made some poor decisions, and they capitalized on them,” said Claude Julien to reporters following the game. “We probably deserved to win, but we also shot ourselves in the foot with some of the goals that we gave up. We made bad decisions, and they’re a team that will make you pay for those.

“[Jimmy Howard] kept them in the game as long as they had to, and then they made the most of it when we got sloppy. You’ve got to give them credit. We had more of the scoring opportunities and chances, but sometimes that’s what hockey is all about.”

Wednesday night’s defeat also marked the fourth straight road game the Bruins have dropped at Joe Louis Arena, and means it’s been a long seven years since the Black and Gold have won a hockey game in Motown. It has seemed that Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Co. have had Boston’s number for quite some time, and the Bruins weren’t able to get that end of season confidence with an otherwise meaningless April win.  

The Bruins also can’t generate a lot of emotion or hate against a Detroit team that won’t fight, or allow things to get to the nasty place that oftentimes wakes the “sleeping giant” in Boston. That’s been a recipe for trouble for the Bruins in year’s past during the postseason.

The good news: the win for Detroit last night made it less likely the Wings will drop into the second wild card spot, and potentially face the Black and Gold. Instead the rugged, largely playoff-inexperienced Columbus Blue Jackets continue to line up like the team Boston will face. They have Nathan Horton and last year’s Vezina Trophy winner in Sergei Bobrovsky, but the Blue Jackets aren’t a very deep offensive team beyond breakout forward Ryan Johansen and New York Rangers retreads Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky.

The Blue Jackets work hard and won’t shy away from the physical stuff, but won’t take your breath away with their elite skill, or stopwatch skating speed. That’s exactly the kind of matchup the Bruins would favor best.

So the way things are currently trending is an extremely positive development for the Bruins. They have owned the Blue Jackets in recent years, and have won six straight against the Blue Jackets dating back to Jan. 21, 2010.

The Bruins can do even more to further the Bruins/Blue Jackets matchup in the first round by dealing out another death blow to the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre on Thursday night. The Leafs only trail Columbus by a single point in the standings, but the Blue Jackets hold two very important games in hand on a Toronto team that has only four regular season games remaining after tonight.

Strange as it is to say, the Bruins helped themselves a bit by losing to the Red Wings on Wednesday night. Now they can help themselves on Thursday night by slapping a DDT finishing move on the Maple Leafs in Jake “The Snake” Roberts-style, and giving them one last push into golf season.