DETROIT – If the Bruins can hold the Detroit Red Wings to just one goal per game as they have in the first two playoff games, they will do perfectly fine in this series. The Wings have managed just one goal apiece in each of the first two games against the Black and Gold, and the Bruins have expertly managed to hold down many of the Wings’ big guns outside of Pavel Datsyuk.
In fact the Bruins have held Detroit’s top six point scorers during the regular season to just a single assist in the first two games of the series, a helper for Johan Franzen after finishing with 41 points in 54 games this year. Daniel Alfredsson, Niklas Kronwall, Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist have all been shut down in the series, with Zetterberg still out with a back injury and Alfredsson shelved for Game 3 with the same kind of old man ailment.
So much of it was based on Boston getting the matchups they wanted on home ice, and now that advantage will transfer to Mike Babcock and the Red Wings for Games 3 and 4. Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara got a steady diet of Datsyuk, Justin Abdelkader and Johan Franzen in the Boston games, but Babcock may try to get more matchups against the David Krejci line at The Joe.
“It’s two of the best in that role. It’s fun to watch them battle,” said Dougie Hamilton of the coaching showdown between Babcock and Claude Julien. “It changes the game with the matchups. They’re obviously two really smart coaches. They know each other, and they know each other’s tendencies as well.
“There’s a little bit of a game between the game with that kind of stuff, and it will be a different view for us tonight with [Detroit’s] last change, and trying to figure out when [Zdeno Chara] is going to be out there on the ice.”
The Bruins have held the Wings to 0-for-6 on the power play despite featuring new faces like Justin Florek and Corey Potter in the first couple of games, and Tuukka Rask has stopped 57-of-59 shots faced thus far for a .966 save percentage. The Datsyuk game-winner in the third period of Game 1 is the only legitimate scoring chance Detroit has been able to get past Rask with Luke Glendening’s score aided by the benefit of pinball action on the way into the net.
“We just want to get back to our style of playing. We want to use our speed, and use our skill,” said Justin Abdelkader. “It will be fun to be back at the Joe. It’s just getting shots. Boston does a good job of boxing out in front, and we need to get to the net. But more than anything it’s about getting good shots, and getting good opportunities against him. We need to sustain more offensive zone time against them.”
That will be the name of the game for a Detroit team now missing two of their top four scorers from the regular season, and struggling to get much through the suffocating, intimidating defense of the Boston Bruins.