BOSTON – The Bruins have known their opponent would be the Detroit Red Wings since last weekend, but they’ll finally get to take the ice Friday night as the last two teams to jump into the Stanley Cup playoffs. That’s given both sides plenty of time to measure strengths and weaknesses, and start getting a feel for Original Six teams that didn’t play each other all that often prior to this season. NHL realignment means the Bruins and Red Wings certainly won’t be going another 57 years between playoff appearances, and that’s a good thing for a league looking for sexy, ratings-grabbing playoff games. But it’s not necessarily a great thing for the Black and Gold with the storied, solid Winged Wheels wedged into a division they’ve dominated for the better part of the last five years. The Bruins knew the new realignment would make it entirely realistic that the Stanley Cup road will have to go through both Detroit and Montreal before getting out of the Atlantic Division. The speed and skill of young speed-burners like Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco will give the B’s defense problems if they’re allowed to roam free, and players like Pavel Datsyuk, Niklas Kronwall, Johan Franzen and Daren Helm are all past champions that will make sure Detroit is a tough out. The Bruins go into the match-up knowing the Red Wings are a far sight better than a typical first round match-up, and an April date with the Columbus Blue Jackets would have made things easier for Boston. “It’s a tough challenge with the Red Wings. They’ve had playoff success in the past, and we all saw what they did last year pushing Chicago to seven games before they were eliminated,” said Milan Lucic. “We’re looking forward for the challenge of it. “I’m just fortunate to be part of another Original Six playoff matchup. Since 2011 we’ve played every Original Six team in a playoff series now. It’s pretty cool to be a part of that.” More challenging than cool, though, is Detroit’s style of play, which is often described as something between European finesse and bloodless, efficient systems play. The Bruins often have trouble when they’re forced to manufacture hatred and create the hockey rage they need to thrive, and it would seem the Red Wings aren’t going to be itching for an alley fight with the Bruins. That means emotional touchstone players like Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic will be looked upon to get things started for Boston. That’s been a challenge in the first round for the Bruins in each of the last three years where they’ve pushed things to overtime in Game 7. The Bruins escaped Game 7 at home vs. Montreal three years ago with heroics from Tim Thomas and Nathan Horton, but they fell victim to a Washington Capitals team one year later that kept many B’s players sleeping when they refused to engage them in heated battle. Last season the Bruins eased up when they built up a 3-1 lead in the series, and then nearly blew it to the Toronto Maple Leafs before their miracle third period comeback for the ages. One would hope the Bruins have learned their first round lessons at this point, but the Red Wings are exactly the kind of team that’s given them issues in the recent past. Claude Julien called the Bruins “Jekyll and Hyde” last season because he never knew what he was going to get, and the wild fluctuations in the first round vs. Toronto perfectly illustrated that. There were no such inconsistencies this season while going 17-3-4 over the final two months of the season. That’s the formula Boston is focused on for the postseason. “We’ve been pretty consistent this season, and especially down the stretch,” said Patrice Bergeron. “Now we just need to carry that over into the postseason. It’s been a fun year for us this year, obviously, but now we know it’s all back to zero now and we need to give our best.” No matter the trends or the matchups, the bottom line is this: the Bruins should win this series. It’s likely going to be six or seven games, and there will be moments when the Bruins’ weaknesses are exposed by a Red Wings team with enough strength to uncover them. That goes doubly so if Henrik Zetterberg magically heals enough to return to the series despite conservative estimates placing him as only a second round playoff possibility. But the Bruins are the superior hockey team: they’re deeper, they’re bigger, they’re stronger, they’re more well-rounded and dangerous at both ends of the rink, and they’ve got a goaltending advantage with Tuukka Rask over Jimmy Howard. They should be able to impose their will. It isn’t difficult to envision Boston discouraging the Red Wings with their pounding physicality, and easy willingness to grind away European finesse with their dump-and-chase style of punishment in the corners. The biggest problem with all of this isn’t the short term first round against a bandaged and bruised Red Wings team. It’s the problematic likelihood the Bruins will have to face Detroit and Montreal in the first two rounds: teams they’ve compiled a 2-5-1 record against during the regular season while not looking all that impressive in many of those games. Looking back at the last 10-15 years just about every Stanley Cup winner has required at least one playoff series that’s gone less than six games. That allows teams to rest, recharge and heal up amid the two month gauntlet of Stanley Cup playoff hockey, so they have something left at the end of their championship push. It could be that the Bruins will advance past the Wings and the hated Habs, but it will have taken too big a chunk out of them by the end. But that’s a story for another day. Friday means it’s “game on” for Bruins playoff hockey, and an Original Six date with Detroit just adds to what’s already the best time of year in the professional sports world. Joe Haggerty serves as Comcast SportsNet's NHL Insider. Read more from Joe here , or follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram .
BOSTON The Bruins have known their opponent would be the Detroit Red Wings since last weekend, but theyll finally get to take the ice Friday night as the last two teams to jump into the Stanley Cup playoffs. NHL realignment means the Bruins and Red Wings certainly wont be going another 57 years between playoff appearances, and thats a good thing for a league looking for sexy, ratings-grabbing playoff games. The Bruins knew the new realignment would make it entirely realistic that the Stanley Cup road will have to go through both Detroit and Montreal before getting out of the Atlantic Division. The speed and skill of young speed-burners like Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco will give the Bs defense problems if theyre allowed to roam free, and players like Pavel Datsyuk, Niklas Kronwall, Johan Franzen and Daren Helm are all past champions that will make sure Detroit is a tough out.
Here are your Puck Headlines: a glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. • This 15-year-old girl's custom Blackhawks Chucks are better than whatever crap you're wearing on your dumb feet. [ DNA Info ] • Dave Tippett will coach Team Canada at the World Championships. [ Fox Sports ] • Anthony Stolarz has had his stick-swinging suspension lifted so he can play in the Memorial Cup. [ Buzzing the Net ] • Ilya Bryzgalov didn't have much to say to this columnist about Semyon Varlamov. That's the story. [ Denver Post ] • No. T.J. Oshie for Game 1 versus the Blackhawks. I'm stilling setting the over/under on times his shootout in the Olympics gets mentioned at 9.5. [ STL Today ] • The Stars looked less like a playoff team in game one and more like a group of kids learning to play the clarinet. [ Dallas News ] • Henrik Zetterberg won't play in round one for the Red Wings, but he skated with his teammates, and that's a good first step. [ MLive ] • The injured Steve Mason will be joining the Flyers in New York. [ CSN Philly ] • If the Blackhawks can repeat, are we talking dynasty? [ Sun Times ] • Cam Charron on the Western Conference, where the top contenders look like the top pretenders. [ Grantland ] • Kris Versteeg goes with a Macklemore cut for his playoff hairdo. [ CSN Chicago ] • Rick Nash wants to eat the Stanley Cup, I think. "I’m as hungry as ever to get that championship," he said. [ Rangers Report ] • On the problem of evaluating goalies. "Despite goaltending’s outsize impact on the outcomes of hockey games, it’s extremely hard to say exactly which goalies are truly good or bad at their jobs." [ Five Thirty Eight ] • Ex-NHLer Dmitry Yushkevich takes a head coaching job in the KHL. [ RSport ] • Nick Costonika on Ryan Miller, weirdly detail-oriented goalie. [ Yahoo ] • James Mirtle on puck possession, and how imporant it is to a long playoff run. [ The Globe & Mail ] • It's also the key to the Toronto Maple Leafs getting good. [ National Post ] • Here's a great playoff pump-up for San Jose Sharks fans.
Coach Paul Maurice has been given a four-year extension by the Winnipeg Jets. And he and general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff appear to be agree on some of the team's needs. One of them is keeping Ondrej Pavelec as the team's starting goaltender.
For Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, the 2014 Olympics were about more than winning a second gold medal with Canada. The Sochi Games were a confidence boost that he harnessed when he returned to perhaps the best of his 10 NHL seasons. The top-seeded Bruins need Bergeron to maintain his outstanding play when they face the eighth-seeded Detroit Red Wings in their first-round playoff series beginning Friday night. ''It's the best I've seen him, period,'' Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have announced that primary goaltender, Jonathan Bernier will undergo surgery on Wednesday to repair a sports hernia. Bernier has been suffering from the injury for a few weeks. He was able to play through the injury and even said, "I felt pretty good," "It was sore but my range, my stretching was fine. I think a lot of players play through that."Bernier is expected to miss, 2-3 weeks to recover from the surgery. He is also missing three weeks with a sprained MCL (which caused him to miss the last few games of the season) Bernier said he will recover from the injuries and be 100% ready to go at the start of training camp in September. jbradley558 -Flickr.comThe season ended for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but it seems that Team Canada for the World Hockey Championship may have to rely on a different goaltender until Bernier is healthy.Bernier had a 26-19-7 record this season with a 2.68 goals-against
from Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star, As tempting and knee-jerk as it is to blame the bench boss for the calamity that befell the Toronto Maple Leafs in the last month of the season — 2-12-0 — the fault lies with a group of players who could not rally from an ever-deepening hockey stupor, failing the test of character and fortitude, time and time again. Oh, there were flashes of backbone, when least expected — beating Boston in the second last week of the schedule, especially. Yet those spurts of mettle were fleeting and ultimately misleading. This was more the team that lost to Winnipeg and Florida and New Jersey down the dismaying stretch; less the team that rose to the challenge of the Bruins. And the core problem, I suggest, is that the players still don’t see themselves for what they are. They scratch their heads and wonder, how did this happen? The answer is staring them in the face, if only they looked hard in the mirror. read on
VOORHEES, N.J. For the first time in his six-year NHL career, Luke Schenn has April plans. When the Flyers open their divisional semifinal series against the New York Rangers Thursday, it will be the first time Schenn suits up for a playoff game. Schenn, 24, spent five seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs before coming to Philadelphia ahead of the 2013 season. Hes still a day away from taking the ice at Madison Square Garden, but Schenn is amped up for the postseason.
So much for the Capitals defying the draft lottery odds.