By Joe Haggerty
BOSTON Claude Julien believes that he saw a flat team that was perhaps emotionally drained after a couple of big games against the Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens recently, and its really impossible to prove hes off the mark.
Perhaps the Bruins had tired legs and weary brows after racking up 187 penalty minutes in an epic butt-kicking of the Habs at TD Garden, and it manifested itself in a listless 6-1 loss to a surgically precise Red Wings team on Friday night.
I think tonight we watched The Wings because I think we were flat. We werent skating tonight. We were second on the puck, and even when they had the puck, I just felt that they had lots of times to make plays, said Julien. We were very slow reacting tonight. So I dont know if the emotional games that weve played lately caught up to us, but we just came out flat.
It just seemed that nothing was going to go our way, even when we had some scoring chances. We hit the posts as well and had a couple of good scoring chances that could have gotten us back in the game, but it just wasnt going in for us. Obviously they were the better team tonight, but were a much better team than what we showed.
Tuukka Rask clearly struggled and was pulled for the second time this season, but the defense in front of him was substandard in every way possible despite limiting the Detroit skaters to less than 20 shots through the first two periods.
Mark Recchi said it was pretty clear to him that the Bs had no legs, and that Detroit was the perfect team to expose them.
I just dont think we had our legs. When you dont have your legs against a team like that, with very good puck control possession players and a team that can really move the puck well, they can make you look flat-footed a lot, said Recchi. If we have our legs, its different. For whatever reason we didnt today and we have to be a lot sharper. We have to go to their building now and try to redeem ourselves.
The Red Wings had lost three of their last four games heading into Friday night and been outscored 12-4 in those contests, so its clear they were highly motivated coming into the Friday night beating. Now its up to the Bruins to turn the tables at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday afternoon before a national audience on NBC.
This is the opportunity that we have, we get another shot at these guys, said Julien. I think its important that we go in there and play our gameplay a lot better. At least that way, you see where you stand with teams like Detroit.
Steve Kampfer donned No. 5 when he played youth and high school hockey in Michigan in honor of Niklas Lidstrom after watching the silky smooth Wings defenseman growing up a Detroit fan, and essentially said that the Joe Louis Arena feels like his own backyard.
Its fun to play your childhood idol, but you want to play him hard and hopefully someday be better than he is, said Kampfer prior to Friday nights defeat. You come to play your game, youre coming to play your teams game and when you do that youre helping the team. Thats what were trying to do tonight, and hopefully we can shut these guys down. Theyre a great team, great players with a lot of Stanley Cups, so its going to be a game where were going to have to try to make them play our style of hockey.
The Michigan University grad played in The Joe countless times over the years as a youth player and as a member of the Wolverines in some pretty epic CCHA battles, and is looking forward to playing in front of more than 50 friends and relatives in Detroit on Sunday afternoon. Kampfer said hes already got 30 confirmed for the game, and hes making arrangements for another 20 on Saturdays off day.
The bottom line is, its a big game for Kampfer after earning favorite son status as a four-year member of the Wolverines hockey team and now as a young NHL player making his way as a puck-moving defenseman.
Its definitely an exciting couple of days. Youve got to look forward to tonight. Its going to be fun, but weve got to play our game and play strong, said Kampfer, who snapped a seven game scoreless stretch with an assist in Bostons 8-6 win over the Canadiens. I grew up with Steve Yzerman, Sergei Federov, Brendan Shanahan... you know. The Russian Five days with Lidstrom, Chelios, Konstantinov. All of those guys. I grew up watching and idolizing them, so this is going to be a lot of fun.
David Krejcis power play goal in the first period was literally the only bright spot of the game for the Bruins, and snapped a 20-game goal-scoring drought for the Czech Republic playmaker. Krejcis last score before Friday night was a two-goal game against the Florida Panthers on Dec. 27 a long, long time ago in a rink pretty far away.
The Bs were outscored 4-0 after Krejcis score, and didnt show many signs of life aside from a couple of near misses in front of Jimmy Howard.
We were just looking at the first half of the first period and they scored two quick goals and I guess from there, we got a little close, but you know, the score didnt matter, said Krejci. They just outplayed us today.
Theres no reason to think it could have been any different when you have the mighty Detroit Red Wings coming to town, and its all but assured that Tyler Seguin wouldnt have been a difference-maker in a 6-1 loss to the Wings at the Garden Friday night.
Tyler Seguin was scratched for the second consecutive game and Mark Stuart was scratched for the eighth straight game in favor of Zach Hamill and Adam McQuaid, respectively.
"He has a ton of talent," coach Claude Julien said of Seguin. "He hasn't had the benefit of other players, such as Taylor Hall in Edmonton, who has played for Memorial Cup teams and so forth. We all know the skill set is high and potential is very high.
"His game may have slipped lately, but he doesn't have the privilege of playing on a rebuilding team where you can keep throwing guys like that out there. He has that time to be patient with that."
Fridays home game at TD Garden against the Detroit Red Wings was the first Friday night Bruins game in Boston since a Nov. 20, 2008 tilt against the Florida Panthers at the Garden.
Tuukka Rask was pulled after the second period, and it marked the third time this season that the Bruins have pulled a goaltender from the game. The Bruins are 0-2-1 in those three games this season.
Bostons 6-1 loss to Detroit tonight was their largest margin of loss since a 6-1 setback to Anaheim on Oct. 8, 2009 and their first of the season by more than three goals.