The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/18/14 at 12:28 PM ET
Updated 8x at 2:34 PM: The Detroit Red Wings hope to upset the mighty Boston Bruins as the teams' first-round playoff series gets underway this evening (7:30 PM on FSD and NESN locally, NBCSN and TSN nationally and on 97.1 FM; does Octopi Hockeytown extend to Boston?), and while the Bruins skated quite early...
WEEI's DJ Bean reports that Claude Julien took a page out of Mike Babcock's book and "held an optional":
Burning hot take: If today's morning skate is an optional, perhaps Bruins just had Paille do his before. Would throw folks off the scent
Or he was just skating before because that's what injured players do. That's the more likely, but I'm not assuming anything. #Bruins
Which means that, as the Boston Herald's Steve Conroy notes, more than just Daniel Paille's status remained up in the air:
Looks like an optional. Among the missing are Paille, Kelly and Bartkowski.
The Patriot-Ledger's Mike Loftus reports that it was kind of optional, anyway...
#NHLBruins a.m. skate is optional. Lines 2, 3, 4 here, plus 5 D-men and 1 goalie (Johnson).
#NHLBruins who aren't skating: Rask, D's Chara, Miller, Bartkowski; Kelly, Paille, and 17-46-12 line.
And NESN's Mike Cole notes that the Bruins' coach also offered no status report regarding his injured players.
No surprise, but Bruins coach Claude Julien won’t give any updates on Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille considering, you know, it’s the playoffs. Neither players were on the ice for the morning skate, but Paille did some skating before Boston’s optional morning skate.
Yay (from the Bruins)?
Julien said Paille skated earlier this morning, marking his first time on the ice this week ^CS
Krug: "Today is like Christmas."
??? from the Times-Standard's Mick Colagelo:
Paille & McQuaid skated light w/Whitesides an hour before the optional game day. Kelly did neither.
And if you wish to listen to Shawn Thornton speak with WEEI's Dennis & Callahan, you may do so, but here's a short excerpt from Meredith Perri:
“We like what we have,” Thornton said. “We said that at the deadline when people were talking about it. We like the group of guys we have. We like the room, how it’€™s made up, so hopefully that equates to some success here.”
Boston is favored in the matchup despite going 1-3 against the Red Wings during the regular season.
“If you start believing your own hype, it comes back to bite you sometimes,” Thornton said of the expectations for the Bruins.
Thornton added that it’s difficult to accurately predict the outcome of a hockey game.
“You put the work in and play the right way,” Thornton said. “You hope that you’€™re doing the right thing that will get you the win. We don’€™t really look at the big picture too much. You’€™re right, hockey is a sport that can go either way. Freaky things happen out there. … You just focus on playing our game and hopefully we get the win out of that.”
NESN did post a video profile of Wings coach Mike Babcock...
The Red Wings posted the following note...
The Boston Bruins won the Presidents' Trophy by leading the NHL with 117 points. Another number shows just how much, or little, that means.
"I heard about 40 percent of the series are upsets in the first round," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "You have teams that have high expectations. You have teams that have nothing to lose and everything to gain. So that certainly makes that first round a challenge."
That begins for top-seeded Boston on Friday night against eighth-seeded Detroit. The Red Wings had 24 fewer points in the regular season but went 3-1 against the Bruins, a sign that Detroit's speedy, puck-possession style can overcome Boston's physical approach.
"I think we're complete," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "I think we're way better than people think."
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose discussed the last match-up between the Wings and Bruins...
It was 57 years ago this month that the Red Wings and Boston Bruins last met in the Stanley Cup playoffs – April 4, 1957 at Detroit’s Olympia Stadium.
The heavily favored Red Wings had finished in first place in the six-team league, eight points ahead of the Bruins, who came in third. Yes, back then, four teams reached the playoffs with the No. 1 seed facing off against No. 3, while the No. 2 seed played No. 4 to decide who would play in the Stanley Cup finals.
Unlike this year, the first two games of the ’57 series were played in Detroit. But it was no surprise that the Bruins skated back to Boston with the series tied 1-1 after stealing Game 1 in the best-of-seven showdown. The Bruins posted a 7-4-3 regular-season record against the Red Wings, which was Detroit’s worst against any team that year.
Following 4-3 and 2-0 victories on their home ice, the Bruins returned to Detroit with a 3-1 series lead heading into Game 5 on April 4.
(the Wings didn't win the Cup in 1957)
And the Wings posted a 1:42 clip "welcoming" fans to the playoffs:
The Bruins posted their own playoff video...
I'm just not going to even try to be comprehensive when it comes to the Bruins' press corps. They have over a dozen press outlets following the. It's ludicrous.
In "Out of Town" stuff, via RedWingsFeed, Pro Hockey Talk posted a game-day video (a little of this and a little of that), and the CBC's Doug Harrison talked about the Wings' youth via a conversation with Grand Rapids Griffins assistant coach Jim Paek:
[Luke] Glendening played for the Griffins during the Olympic break in February but returned to Detroit for good, where he also played a defensive/penalty-kill role and was matched up against top centres like Boston’s Patrice Bergeron and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby late in the regular season.
“He did the same thing here [in Grand Rapids]. He was on for key faceoffs, against the top lines. On the penalty kill, he learned how to block shots so he doesn’t hurt himself,” said Paek of Glendening, whom the Red Wings recently signed to a three-year contract extension. He was a well-rounded athlete [playing football, baseball and hockey at East Grand Rapids High School]. When he hits guys [on the ice] he hits right through guys. He learned how to hit and take a hit. The attributes having played different sports has helped him in his hockey game and it’s really shown of late.”
The 24-year-old Glendening, along with his former Griffins teammates Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Jurco, Tomas Tatar, Joakim Andersson and Riley Sheahan, answered Red Wings coach Mike Babcock’s call in the second half of the season when Detroit was missing as many as eight regulars from the lineup, including star forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.
Paek said fans in Detroit and across the NHL saw the results of a Red Wings organization that has the luxury of their younger players and prospects being overripe, having developed in the American league from their draft day.
“With different organizations,” Paek said, “they would have been [playing in the NHL] maybe one year after the minors. And would they have been ready then? You look at them now; they’re NHL-ready, for sure. They were stars at this level. Mike Babcock and [his assistants Tom Renney and Bill Peters] have done a great job putting [these players] in the right situations where they’re going to succeed, and they have. It was about them getting an opportunity.”
And Harrison continues...
Here are a few FYIs from Ken Kal:
The Bruins have played every original 6 opponent since 2011
Interesting Stat: Detroit's last road playoff win in Boston was 24,865 days ago.....March 21, 1946.
In Red Wings preview-y stuff:
- The Windsor Star's Bob Duff reports that the Smith-vs-Smith tangle is the first time in NHL history that the Red Wings will battle brother-vs-brother in a playoff series;
- Fox Sports Detroit posted Dana Wakiji's playoff preview (13-minute Art Regner-and-Wakiji playoff preview video included);
- CBS Detroit posted an AP article about the Smith-vs-Smith showdown;
- MLive's Brendan Savage and Ansar Khan discussed long media odds, Darren Helm's potential impact, the size-vs-speed battle and the Wings' regular-season dominance over the B's (and it's time for a poll yay?);
- The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness discussed the size-vs-speed match-up, and Pat Caputo of the Daily's sister publication, the Oakland Press, isn't picking the Wings;
- The Detroit News's preview package includes stories about Darren Helm, Danny DeKeyser, staff predictions, a Torey Krug profile, a "Tale of the Tape," a feature story about Tomas Tatar and a Wings-Bruins historical review from Krupa;
- And the Detroit Free Press's preview package includes Helene St. James and Jeff Seidel's takes on the series, a "Tale of the Tape," Ye Olde Johan Franzen playoff story, more staff predictionss and an "edge," as well as this from Babcock, via the Free Press's George Sipple:
Babcock said the team’s game plan doesn’t change much from the regular season to the playoffs.
“We understand the competition level takes a turn up,” he said. “Refereeing, these guys want to referee in the finals, so refereeing gets tighter. Just watching last night, (the) nervousness of some of the players early in games and some of the goaltenders can be a factor. But as far as our game plan and our plan to execute will be very similar to what we’ve done.”
More ??? from CSNNE's Joe Haggerty...
Paille skated today prior to morning skate, per Claude Julien. 1st time on ice and didnt stay out for optional. Wouldn't expect him to play
Chris Kelly (back) was spotted in dressing room during availability, but wasn't on ice at any point today. Wouldn't expect him to play either
And the Patriot-Ledger's Loftus:
There was a Matt Bartkowski sighting in #NHLBruins' dressing room; but couldn't even guess what, if anything, is wrong with him.
DON'T GET TOO EXCITED:
Wings lines morning skate at TD Garden: Franzen-Datsyuk-Abdelkader, Tatar-Sheahan-Nyquist, Jurco-Helm-Alfredsson, Miller-Glendening-Legwand
Andersson and Bertuzzi (likely healthy scratches) and Zetterberg (injured) also skating.
First power play unit has Datysuk-Franzen-Nyquist, Legwand (net front) Kronwall; 2nd: Tatar-Sheahan-Jurco, Alfredsson-DeKeyser.
Bruins winger Daniel Paille skated Friday morning before the team's optional morning skate, his first time on the ice since being knocked out of last Saturday's win over the Sabres.
Paille skated along with injured defenseman Adam McQuaid.
Several players were absent from the optional morning skate. Both forward Chris Kelly and defenseman Matt Bartkowski did not skate, and neither has practiced all week. Kelly has a back injury.
Coach Claude Julien said there were "no updates" to offer on the status of his injured players.
Justin Florek and Jordan Caron are expected to plug into the forward lineup for Game 1 against the Red Wings if Paille and Kelly are unavailable. Andrej Meszaros would be the next man up on defense if Bartkowski can't play.
Also missing from Friday's skate were goalie Tuukka Rask, defenseman Zdeno Chara and forwards Jarome Iginla, David Krejci and Milan Lucic.
And Patrice Bergeron talked about battling Pavel Datsyuk tonight, as NESN's Cole noted:
One of the key matchups will pit Bergeron against another former Selke Trophy winner, Detroit center Pavel Datsyuk. The two have been considered for some time as a couple of the best at their position, and that should play out in a very interesting matchup as this series plays out. There’s no denying that there’s a ton of respect on Bergeron’s side when it comes to matching up against Datsyuk.
“It’s always a great challenge.” Bergeron said Friday morning. “He’s a terrific player and he’s won before. He’s really a great player and tough to play against. It’s a great challenge for everyone.”
While it will take a team effort to slow Datsyuk and the rest of Detroit’s dangerous top line, the responsibility may fall heaviest on Bergeron’s shoulders. That’s fitting as Bergeron says he’s modeled parts of his game after the “Magic Man.”
"He’s definitely a guy that plays the way that I like to play on both sides of the rink,” Bergeron added. “He obviously has amazing skills. He plays the way that I like. There are a lot of players I’ve taken notes from, and he’s certainly one of them.”
Matt Bartkowski was once again not on the ice Friday for the Bruins’ morning skate, meaning he has not skated at all this week. Bartkowski, who was spotted in the Bruins’ dressing room Friday after showering, may have been one of the Bruins battling the flu this week. With Bartkowski’s status for Game 1 against the Red Wings in question (Claude Julien is not giving updates on his players), Andrej Meszaros could be called upon to play Friday night to play on the second pairing alongside Johnny Boychuk. If he is, he says he’s ready.
“Yeah, if I play, I’m ready to go,” Meszaros said Friday morning. “I can’t wait actually to start the playoffs. It should be fun.”
WEEI posted a game-day interview with Bergeron, too.
Babcock: We talk about the past in the media. We don't talk about the past in the dressing room.
Babcock: "Bergeron is one of the best players in the world."
The Boston Globe's Shinzawa...
Babcock on young players: They took jobs and they're going to keep jobs.
Babcock on Howard: He's dialed in. He's going to be unbelievable.
Brendan Smith is an amazing interview. #Bruins #RedWings
Brendan Smith: "We were young, so teeth just grew back. Now if you lose them, they're toast." #Bruins #RedWings
Babcock on Julien: "He's a good coach. He's a good man. He's coached a lot of different places, and done a good job everywhere he's coached"
Mike Babcock: "I watch all these playoff games w/the high scoring & turnovers. I'm saying to myself: 'Just play.' Settle down & just play"
Also, from the Bruins...
Johnny Boychuk's emotions waking up today: "it's a good feeling to be here; we're here trying to pursue another Cup" ^CS
JB55, on not underestimating Detroit: "we've got one opponent, and we have to treat them as the Champions" ^CS
The Boston Herald's Matt Kalman...
Babcock going out on a limb about Howard: "He's dialed in. He's going to be unbelievable. That was kind of a softball, right?"
Tonight's key matchup: Grumpy Claude vs. Happy Mike
Brendan Smith talked a ton about his brother this morning. Said he and Reilly used to double up on older brother Rory.
Update #2: CBS Boston filed a game-day skate update;
Ditto for SouthCoast Today's Mick Colageo...
No update from Bruins coach Claude Julien on the status of Chris Kelly or Daniel Paille.
Paille skated this morning around 9:30 with Adam McQuaid, doing somewhat light skate and shoot drills under the supervision of strength coach John Whitesides.
Kelly did not appear in that session or the optional morning skate that followed at 10:30. Also sitting out the a.m. skate were the top two lines (except for Reilly Smith who skated), and defensemen Zdeno Chara and Matt Bartkowski.
As well as the Boston Herald's Steve Conroy...
"They play the same way they’ve played forever," said coach Claude Julien. "Their personnel has changed. They’ve got some younger bodies. Obviously, some good players [have gotten injured], but let’s not kid ourselves. They’ve replaced them with some pretty good young ones as well. So they’re still the same. They love their puck management, play a good defensive game, they’ve got layers and they certainly have guys that can score some goals for them, and that’s been proven there in the last little while. They’ve had a lot of injuries this year, but it’s given a lot of those young players, I think, [a chance] to develop. I’ve seen a lot of those young players get better as the year has gone on here, so again, it’s going to be a real tough opponent for us."...
But while the B's have a little more firepower than the Wings, they can ill-afford to make mistakes against this team, especially at the blue lines. That's how they lost the last game at Joe Louis Arena, when Carl Soderberg didn't get the puck deep at the offensive blue line and the next thing you knew, the Wings were charging back up the ice while the B's were on a change. Gustav Nyquist wound up scoring the game-winner.
But while the B's can certainly learn from the season series, it is in the past, said Julien.
"It doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t matter what the season record was — playoffs is a whole new ballgame," said Julien. "Same for us. It doesn’t matter that we finished atop the league. That doesn’t matter anymore. All that gave us is home-ice advantage. Now we start from scratch, and same thing is going to apply to this series here. So we haven’t looked at the finishes or because we lost a game we felt we could have won. Game 2 here (a 4-1 Bruin win), we totally dominated, but at the end of the night, the score wasn’t what it should have been. So you can spend a lot of time looking at those things, or you can focus on what you need to do moving forward and that’s what we’ve chosen to do."
And Boston.com's Zuri Berry...
"They're obviously a team that doesn't quit," said Milan Lucic. "They've been in a playoff mode now for a long, long time. But from our standpoint, obviously, everyone talks about their speed and the way that they're able to skate. But it seems like the times that we've kept up with them and used our speed as well, that's when we've been able to play our game. So moving our feet and trying to use our speed is going to be key for us in this series."
Bergeron told Berry that the 5-day break helped the B's:
"I think it was good for everyone just with the schedule we've had, after the break it was pretty crazy," Bergeron said. "It was good for everyone to get ready and now we're looking forward to it."
Bergeron caught some of the playoff games last night, putting him in the right mood for tonight's Red Wings showdown.
"It was great to actually have those games and to get in the mode of playoff hockey," he said. "I was getting antsy just watching it for sure."
Julien's playoff time drumbeat may be the team's key message for tonight's game: Don't take the Red Wings for granted.
"We never get comfortable," Julien said. "We always talked about that. No matter what we’ve accomplished the good things happen from hard work. The minute we stop working hard and then focusing on the things we need to focus on, things can change. That’s always been our approach."
"I think we have high expectations of ourselves," Bergeron said. "So the outside pressure is not something we should really worry about. It's about us right now and making sure we only worry about what's in this room. We know we're a good team and we'll take it a game at a time."
As well as the Boston Globe's Amalie Benjamin...
“Playoffs is a whole new ballgame,” coach Claude Julien said on Friday morning. “Same for us – it doesn’t matter that we finished atop the league. That doesn’t matter anymore. All that gave us is home-ice advantage. Now we start from scratch.”
It was the same message in the Red Wings’ dressing room.
“It’s a clean slate,” Gustav Nyquist said. “For us we’ve shown that we can play with this team before. I think we match up well. But again it’s a clean slate. Anything can happen.”
The series kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the TD Garden, with the two Atlantic Division teams facing each other for the second time in two weeks. The Bruins are ready. The Red Wings are ready.
“They’re a team that doesn’t quit and they’ve been in a playoff mode now for a long, long time,” Bruins wing Milan Lucic said.
Brendan on Reilly, from the Free Press's Helene St. James:
RedWings D Brendan Smith on what he might do if see brother & Bruins F Reilly Smith in TD Garden hallway: "I'll probably give him a shove."
Brendan on Reilly, from WEEI's Bean:
Brendan, 25, and Reily, 25, speak to one another regularly, though they will cut back on the commincuatin during this series. Brendan said that he and Reilly spoke plenty about the goal-scoring slump Reilly went through after scoring 18 goals in his first 52 games with Boston and only scoring two the rest of the way.
“I told him, ‘Keep shooting.’ The thing we talked about is, a basketball player goes through a slump and they’re throwing up bricks. The only way to get out of that is to continue to shoot until you get your rhythm back,” Brendan recalled. “That’s something that I try to keep telling him, and don’t be discouraged by it.
“Everybody goes through things like that, cold streaks. It’s natural. We talk all the time about different little things.”
Both Smith brothers now have major roles on there team. Though Brendan was a healthy scratch earlier in the season, he is now on Detroit’s top pairing alongside Niklas Kronwall. That should mean he’ll see plenty of Reilly, who is Boston’s second-line right wing.
The brothers, who have faced each other seven times in the NHL (including preseason) had always wanted to play each other in big roles with something important on the line. They just didn’t know it would ever happen.
“Just play their game and there’s a reason why they’re here. It comes down to playing hockey,” Bergeron said. “You can’t think too much out there. It’s about following your instincts and that’s what I’ll tell them. They’ve been great all year and just keep doing what they’ve been doing.”
As Bergeron’s linemate, Smith played well this season. He experienced the normal ups and downs of the season. When puck drops against the Red Wings, Smith said he hopes his nerves will be in check.
“We’ll see, I guess,” he said. “Having the guys around me and playing with Bergeron will help a lot because having leadership around you tends seep off them and you kind of pick it up.”
Anthony Travalgia offers the folloiwng Game 1 match-up...
Who to Watch For in Game 1: David Krejci & Gustav Nyquist
When the playoffs roll around, a different David Krejci is unleashed. With 73 points in 81 career playoff games, it’s safe to say that the playoffs bring out the best in Krejci. The Krejci line was arguably the best trio in all of hockey this season and the Bruins will look for much of the same from Krejci and company as the Bruins look to avoid the first round upset. Krejci has developed into one of the most underrated centers in the game, his continuing chemistry with Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla has been fun to watch. Look for Krejci to have himself a big night as he looks to help the Bruins jump out to an early series lead.
Carrying the offensive duties for much of the regular season, Gustav Nyquist will be looked upon to do the same as the Red Wings kick off things in Boston Friday night. Nyquist will be playing in his 19th career playoff game Friday night, but his expectations are much higher this time around. En route to a Calder Cup title with the Red Wings' minor league affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins a season ago, Nyquist tallied seven points in 10 playoff games. With the lights much brighter and even more eyes on Nyquist, It will be interesting to see how the 24-year old Swede handles the pressure.
Speaking of which...
Oh joy, via RedWingsFeed:
fun RT @SportsnetTicker: #RedWings Jimmy Howard has never won a Game 1 on the road, going 0-6 with a 2.82 GAA
Hi, the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan!
No changes in lineup...expect Andersson and Bertuzzi to be healhty scratches
The Bruins posted some playoff hype-y thing, too.
Update #3: At this point, CSNNE's Joe Haggerty's game-day update is kind of repetitive...
Jimmy Howard spoke with the Bangor Daily News's Larry Mahoney about battling the Bruins from a, "Former University of Maine Black Bear" perspective...
The eighth-seeded Red Wings were the only team to beat the Bruins three times this season, as they went 3-1 against Boston.
“That all goes out the window now,” said Howard, who resides on Green Lake in Dedham [Maine] in the offseason with wife Rachel (Miller) and son James Howard IV, 2½.
Howard readily admits that Boston “has a special place in my heart. I love playing in Boston. I’ve played so many times there [including] winning the Hockey East championship and playing in the national championship game. It is always a fun place to play,” said the former All-American, who set the NCAA Division I record for goals-against average (1.19) and save percentage (.956) in 2004.
Howard said the Bruins will be a difficult challenge.
“They’ve got big guys who can skate and they have four lines who can do damage out there,” said Howard. “They get in your face and if you turn the puck over, they’ll put it in the net.”
He added that the Bruins “like to funnel pucks to the net” and crash the net front.
“They have big bodies so they’re able to do that [successfully],” said Howard, who owns Maine career records for shutouts (15 in three seasons), GAA (1.84) and save percentage (.931).
Howard said the Red Wings are going to have to manage the puck well.
“We’re going to have to be extremely smart with the puck. We’ve got to get pucks in deep [the offensive zone] and get them out [of our zone]. And we’ve got to cut people off,” said Howard. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work to beat them. They are such a good, deep team,” he added.
Crain's Detroit Business's Bill Shea reports that secondary market tickets are super expensive this spring...
ESPN Boston's McDonald spoke with the Bruins about "the most dangerous round," as Scotty Bowman would say...
In 2011, Boston defeated Montreal 4-3 in overtime. In 2012, the Washington Capitals beat the Bruins 201. In 2013, the Bruins defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4.
Bruins forward Milan Lucic can’t explain why they’ve had so much trouble in the first round each year, but he’s hoping that changes against the Red Wings.
“I don’t know,” Lucic said. “It just seems to be the biggest battle for us and the hardest one to get through. I don’t think it’s going to be any different heading into this series, so we’ve got to be prepared to bring our best because you talk about the last three years, the other team hasn’t taken us lightly and they’ve given us their best. Maybe we kind of overlooked the other teams a little too much where we kind of got ourselves in holes and got into a Game 7 overtime situation in the last three years, so hopefully our mindset is where it needs to be in order for us to bring our best.”
Earlier this week, Bruins coach Claude Julien was doing his homework and found a stat that he found interesting, saying that 40 percent of the so-called underdog teams have won the first round.
“That’s a pretty high number in the first round,” Julien said. “So that means there’s a lot of upsets going on, so it’s not just us. It just means that when you get into the playoffs, you’ve got sometimes one of the top teams playing against a team that has nothing to lose, and it just goes to show you what pressure does versus we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Reilly skates on the Bruins’ second line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, a line that will likely match up at times with the Wings’ top defensive pairing of Brendan and Niklas Kronwall.
“If I’m playing with Kronner, we’ll see those top two lines quite often,” Brendan said. “Look at all six of them. They’re all great and they all can burn you and they can all make you look bad. So it’s something that you’re just on your toes and you’re ready for anybody, and I have to have my best game with Kronwall, and it’s a team defense, more or less. So it’s something that we’ve got to do and get after, because next thing you know, it could be Reilly feeding Bergeron in the slot, or Lucic to Krejci, so it’s something that we’ve got to be aware of.”
Update #4: Here's the Free Press's Helene St. James' game-day article, in which she reports that the Wings are giving the Bruins respect galore...
"They're a good team," Nyquist said, "but we have shown we can play with them, for sure, this season. It's going to be a tough series, but we believe, if we stick to our system and play the way we can, we're going to be a tough out, for sure. I'm expecting a good matchup."
Nyquist is playing without a front tooth — some got knocked out by then teammate Garnet Exelby with a high stick at training camp two and a half years ago. "I took out my mouthguard, and there were two teeth in it," Nyquist said. "They've been glued on since. We've been trying to glue it on again, but it's coming off all the time. It's me getting ready for the playoffs."
While staying "light-hearted"...
Both teams played up a light-hearted attitude at their morning skates, with Bruins defenseman Torey Krug, a former Spartan, calling this time of year "just like Christmas." There was Bruins forward Reilly Smith revealing that he has cut off communication with brother and Wings defenseman Brendan Smith until the playoffs are over, only to have Brendan Smith reveal that maybe the two will have dinner together Saturday. Plans to get together Thursday were scuttled because the Wings had a team dinner.
And there was Brendan joking that if he sees Reilly in the hallway of the arena, "I'll probably shove him."
There was Detroit coach Mike Babcock answering a question about goalie Jimmy Howard by saying, "I think he's dialed in and he's going to be unbelievable."
Much will be revealed tonight about how this series will go, as teams always try to set a tone in Game 1. For the Wings, the important thing will be to get through the first 10 minutes of playing in what's going to be a loud enemy building, and for those experiencing the NHL playoffs for the first time — like Sheahan — to let the nerves settle as quickly as possible.
And her game-day video focuses on Sheahan:
The Toronto Sun's Rob Longley warns us to not expect high-scoring stuff...
"We are a big believer in the group we have,” said Babcock, whose eighth-seeded Wings will attempt to knock off the regular-season champion Bruins. We think we are detail-oriented and we compete. When I watch the NHL playoffs right now and see all the goals going in and I watch all the turnovers, I say, ‘What’s going on? Settle down and just play. Don’t be thinking too much.’ ”
Though the Wings are new to the Eastern Conference and are bolstered by a young roster, in part to deal with a rash of injuries all season, the pedigree and form of the team hasn’t changed much. The fact that they are here is a testament to a brilliant season by Babcock, who was also at the helm for Team Canada’s gold medal win at the Sochi Olympics.
Despite their President’s Trophy winning regular season, the Bruins dropped three of four meetings with the Wings, with their lone win back in early October.
“Have we talked about the fact that they won the President’s Trophy and we didn’t?” Babcock said. “No. We know who we are playing – we played them four times this year. We’re well aware of who we are playing, we’re excited about our opportunity.”
ESPN Boston's MacDonald spoke with the Bruins about battling Pavel Datsyuk...
“There’s no secret,” Chara said. “You always have to be aware of him. He’s one of the best players in the league, in the world and anytime you give a guy like that time and space he’s going to make something happen, so you just have to make sure you take as much as possible away from him.”
“It’s always a great challenge,” Bergeron said. “He’s a terrific player and he’s won before, so he’s really a great player and he’s tough to play against. It’s a great challenge for everyone. He doesn’t quit on any plays or any pucks,” Bergeron said. “You just need to be aware of that when you’re playing against him.”
And NHL.com's Matt Kalman filed a game-day blog post:
Jordan Caron was the 13th forward for the Boston Bruins almost all season. Now, the first-round pick (No. 25) in the 2009 NHL Draft is probably going to play a big role at the biggest time of the year.
Caron, who skated in 35 games and had one goal and two assists, could be in the lineup against the Detroit Red Wings in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round on Friday at TD Garden (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, FS-D, NESN).
The Bruins haven't had injured forwards Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly all week for practice. Paille skated for the first time since last week before the Bruins' optional skate Friday, but neither player joined the full squad. Coach Claude Julien said there was no update on either, so it's likely they'll each miss the game.
Caron and rookie Justin Florek are the next two forwards in line. Florek was called up from Providence of the American Hockey League earlier in the week. He played in four games for the Bruins this season. Caron was with the team all season.
On This Day in Red Wings' History...
On April 18, 2004
Steve Yzerman and Ray Whitney score, while Curtis Joseph records a shutout and Detroit eliminates Nashville in a 2-0 Game 6 win.
As well as Ken Kal's Keys to the Game:
Weather the Storm - The Bruins will feed off the emotion of the crowd early on. Detroit needs to hang in there and battle.
Skate - Speed is the best way to beat the Bruins. This means moving the puck quickly to the forwards and getting them on their way.
Solid Goaltending - Howard needs to be better than Rask. The team needs to help him out, as well.
Update #5: Here's MLive's Ansar Khan's game-day article:
Boston was tied for 25th on the power play in 2012-13. This season, the Bruins shot up to third in the league at 21.7 percent. Game 1 is tonight at TD Garden (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit). Red Wings coach Mike Babcock cited Boston’s size and puck-retrieval ability as keys.
“Everybody in the National Hockey League -- off a faceoff, off a puck put on the wall, off a shot -- tries to put as much pressure as they can on you,” Babcock said. “So the bigger you are, the more you can handle the tight quarters to get the puck out and get the team backed off again. They do that well. They have a big guy at the net (6-foot-9 defenseman Zdeno Chara), they can shoot the puck up top and they have good skill, and they have two different looks. They have a spread power play in the one group and an overload with (Patrice) Bergeron high in the other. I’m a big believer in our penalty kill; (assistant coach) Bill Peters has done a phenomenal job with our penalty kill all year long and that and the goaltending, we have to shut their power play down. They can’t run, go crazy on the power play for us to have success.”Chara, who led Boston with 10 power-play goals, has a cannon for a shot, but mostly is used to screen the goaltender.
“That’s a challenge for (Jimmy Howard),” Detroit’s Drew Miller said. “With a guy what big you just got to expect him to be there. Just got to take care of the other spots on the ice, be structured through the neutral zone so they don’t get a chance to set up. That’s the main thing for us, not letting them get set up, and getting the puck out before they can get in their spots and get the power play going.”
Update #7: Here's the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's game-day post:
After four days of preparation, it felt good to have a morning skate Friday and get ready for Game 1 against the Boston Bruins. And especially in one of the louder, more energized buildings in the NHL.
"I've played here before in Hockey East tournaments and college tournaments and it's a great atmosphere back then," said forward Gustav Nyquist, who played at Maine. "I've played against the Bruins in here and I know it's always a fun building to play in. The crowd gets into it."
"We know who we are playing; we played them four times (during the regular season)," said coach Mike Babcock (the Red Wings won three of the four games, incidentally). "We're well aware and we're excited about the opportunity. We're a big believer in our group and we compete."
1. Johan Franzen-Pavel Datsyuk-Justin Abdelkader
2. Tomas Tatar-Riley Sheahan-Gustav Nyquist
3. Tomas Jurco-Darren Helm-Daniel Alfredsson
4. Drew Miller-Luke Glendening-David Legwand
For someone who’s making his Stanley Cup playoff debut tonight, Red Wings rookie Tomas Jurco plans to keep his mind off of Game 1 against the Boston Bruins by playing a different kind of game.
“Actually it’s funny because my friend is laughing at me all the time,” Jurco said following the Red Wings’ morning skate at TD Garden. “He came from Slovakia and he didn’t know I played so much games, and yesterday we were laughing about that. I always play like little kids game on my iPad. I don’t know, just a bunch of games just to relax a little bit and think of something else.”
Jurco plans to head back to the team hotel where he’ll grab a bite to eat before he settles into his room with his tablet before he dozes off for an afternoon nap.
Like many professional athletes, Jurco’s routine is meant to keep his mind off the game so he can be fresh once the puck drops.
“It’s lots of hockey here and it’s always good to take your mind for something else,” Jurco said. “Then you’re going to be more prepared for hockey, you’re going to be more excited to go back to hockey so I always like to play some games just to think of something else.”
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