The Boston Bruins certainly won’t lack for entertainment value in their first round opponent, the Detroit Red Wings. The Columbus Blue Jackets' Saturday night win over the Florida Panthers locked it up as a certainty that the Red Wings get the No. 2 wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
It’s an Original Six matchup right off the bat in the first round, and will be the first time the two longtime NHL teams will lock up in the playoffs since 1957.
Based on the NHL calendar kicking the Stanley Cup playoffs off on April 16 and the Boston Celtics playing their final home game of the season that night at TD Garden, the series between Boston and Detroit is expected to kick off with Game 1 in Boston on Thursday night. It’s expected that NBC is going to be pick up Game 2 of the Bruins/Wings series next weekend, and their open slots on Saturday are 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. There’s also a 3 p.m. slot on Sunday as a possibility, but Game 2 is pretty much a lock to be a Saturday matinee at TD Garden at this point.
The series against the Red Wings won’t be an easy one for Boston, and sets up a potential first two rounds where the President’s Trophy-winning Bruins face Detroit and Montreal after compiling a 2-5-1 record against them during the regular season. The Bruins didn’t care much earlier today when asked if there was a preference among their potential playoff opponents.
“As far as losing sleep over it, I mean, you just have to be ready for whoever you are going to play, whoever you are going to face and then that’s it,” said Zdeno Chara. “I think that if you want to move on, if you want to win, you have to win the series no matter who you are playing.”
The Bruins have lost two games to the Red Wings this season without Pavel Datsyuk in the lineup, and lost their most recent game vs. Detroit with both Datsyuk and Zetterberg in the lineup.
Datsyuk should be ready to play to start the playoffs, and Zetterberg is skating by himself with an aim at returning at some point in the first round series.
The Bruins are clearly the favorites in the series and should be able to wear Detroit down over the course of the playoff series, but the speed and skill of the Red Wings is exactly the kind of team that can exploit a bigger, slower Bruins team. Tomas Jurco, Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist gave the Bruins defense a pretty fair amount of issues this season, and there is no shortage of Stanley Cup playoff experience up and down Detroit’s lineup.
There’s also the simple fact that the Bruins haven’t won a game in Joe Louis Arena since back in 2007, and have consistently had problems with the Red Wings over the years. For a team in the Bruins that earned the No. 1 spot overall in this spring’s playoffs, Detroit really seems to be a tough draw in the first round for a team of Boston’s stature.