DETROIT – The Boston Bruins simply aren’t giving the Detroit Red Wings any room to breath.
In their best show of suffocating D in a series that’s been extremely sound in the defense department, the Bruins shut the Wings down for a 3-0 win at Joe Louis Arena in Game 3 of their first round series. It was the first win of any kind at Joe Louis Arena since 2007, and pushed the Black and Gold to a 14-1 record in Game 3 settings with Claude Julien as the head coach.
It also means that the Bruins have allowed just two goals over the first three playoff games against the Wings, have held them to an 0-for-9 showing on the power play and have held Detroit’s top six regular season scorers (Daniel Alfredsson, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Gustav Nyquist, Johan Franzen and Tomas Tatar) to just one assist in building a 2-1 lead in the series. Quite simply the Red Wings haven’t been able to ramp up their speed and skill game, and aren’t physically strong enough to get into the scoring areas in Boston’s D-zone.
“To be good defensively you have to have a team commitment, and we had that obviously tonight,” said Claude Julien. “I thought we were closing gaps, and we were able to be physical. You can’t be physical if you can’t skate, and you can’t get there. I liked our effort tonight.”
Then there was a layered B’s defense that blocked 13 shots, and has a number of players that excel in getting sticks in passing lanes to break up offensive chances.
There is nary a Wings player in the Boston slot, and nearly every shot is coming from the outside perimeter with varying levels of traffic in front of the net. It’s virtually impossible to score against a stalwart Bruins defense that way, and that goes doubly so with Tuukka Rask throwing around a .976 save percentage against Detroit.
Combine that with a Bruins team that also continually just took the puck away from Detroit attackers and sent it going in the opposite direction, and you have all the makings of a lopsided match between Boston and Detroit.
“It’s the way we need to play, and it’s the way we need to have success,” said Bergeron. “When we’re first on pucks, and we’re disturbing their breakouts [we are having success].”
If the Bruins continue to allow just one goal a game or less in this first round series against the Red Wings, it won’t be long before they’re making preparations for a Montreal Canadiens team already sitting in wait for the second round. But first they’ve got to put in the work defensively as they’ve already done in the first three games against the Wings.