Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Bruins Game 3 set-up and overnight report: both Wings, B’s say poise is on their side

The Detroit Red Wings face a nearly-must-win situation as they host the Boston Bruins tonight in Game 3 (7:30 PM on FSD in Michigan, NESN in Massachusetts, and NBCSN and TSN everywhere else, 97.1 FM as well).

After dropping Game 2 (and getting beaten up, as the Chief reminded us), the Wings flew home and "took an optional" Monday at the Joe, while the Bruins--reminding us that this isn't exactly a West Coast series--stayed in Boston to hold their own optional before flying to Detroit on Monday afternoon.

Both teams' players spoke with the press at length; I've already posted a video entry regarding the Wings' comments, and on Monday evening, the Bruins' website posted their off-day report...

NESN also filed an off-day report (press the pause buttons with NESN videos when you're done watching 'em or they play more commercials)...

As well as comments from Andy Brickley...

Comcast Sportsnet Northeast also filed an off-day report, and their panel had a chitchat regarding the Bruins' continued momentum...But those are auto-play clips, and I've learned that you hate 'em as much as I hate 'em.

 

NHL.com posted a Game 3 preview...

Obviously, Mickey Redmond represents the Wings' side of the story...

And WXYZ filed an off-day report as well:

If we are to believe Brendan Smith's retelling of his foray with Zdeno Chara, we Red Wings fans--and again, I'm not making any bones about the fact that while I may try to be a professional blogger, in the playoffs, I cannot be anything other than bluntly honest about my status as a partisan and biased Red Wings fan--can safely assume that Chara and Claude Julien have established the Bruins' character over the first two games of this series:

If you're not playing them, they're sort of the amenable, admirable big, physical team that turns out to be a bunch of really big, really mean Jarome Iginla-Milan Lucic-and-Brad Marchand-style jerks when they actually play against your team.

They like to beat you by beating you up; for a physical team, they're surprisingly vocal in their insistent that it's the other team that's playing dirty; and they generally know that, against Detroit, anyway, provoking the Wings is something they can get away with, especially against an 0-and-8 power play.

SouthCoast Today's Mick Colageo reports that the Bruins' coach plans on following the same game plan tonight, and he did so while continuing to insist that his team's "tough but fair," if you will:

"Well I think it's pretty clear our team has to be physically engaged, but again, within the rules. When we're not, we're in the penalty box and I said that after (Sunday's) game," Julien told a press gathering after Monday's optional practice at TD Garden. "We have to find a way to stay out of the box a little bit more. To me, we're in the box for too many penalties and down the road that can hurt you. So playing within the rules and being physical is part of our, I guess, part of our strength. So we have to be that team, and the after-whistle scrums is certainly not pre-planned — it's just two teams that are intense and ready to battle for their space and it's as simple as that."

That's rather ironic given who's instigated 80% of the scrums.

Julien imagines he is Babcock and asks himself and his assistants what they would do against the Bruins. The preparation will only stop short of bogging down their own players' minds with this information.

"Well, you have to (prepare)," he said. "First and foremost, you look at your team and you look at the things you did well and things you have to be better at. You also have to kind of look and say, well, obviously, these guys will probably try and do this next game — we have to be prepared for that. But you don't overload your players with information. So that's something that we have to keep in mind as coaches, and if you see those things happening, you got to be prepared to let your team know and make sure you have the right adjustments to go along with it."

The Bruins felt that their penalty-killing unit may not have been fairly tested per se, but they're also quite proud of it,
as they told the Boston Herald's Matt Kalman...

It’s just been plug and play for the Bruins’ banged-up penalty kill through two games of the first-round playoff series against the Detroit Red Wings. Despite playing without injured Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille, the Bruins penalty kill is 6-for-6, including extinguishing all four Detroit power plays in a 4-1 win in Game 2 on Sunday. The series is tied at 1 heading to Detroit for Game 3 tonight.

“Yeah, we definitely got to keep that going,” Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said after an optional practice at TD Garden yesterday. “I think we’ve made some good adjustments. (Assistant coach Doug Jarvis has) been pretty good to tell us, I guess, what to do. And right now it’s about getting used to the new guys that are killing. But it’s been going well.”

Detroit’s power play ranked just 18th (17.7 percent) for the season. But with Pavel Datsyuk and Daniel Alfredsson back healthy, the Red Wings power play should provide a stiff test for any team, let alone one missing two of its key penalty killers.

Kelly averaged 1:51 of shorthanded ice time, tied with Gregory Campbell for second to Bergeron among Bruins forwards, in the regular season. Paille averaged 1:28. The injuries have also forced coach Claude Julien to push center David Krejci back on the kill. Krejci was sporadically used in that role in the regular season, but has been paired with Loui Eriksson.

With Tuuka Rask suggesting that the B's are keeping his sightlines quite clear...

“We have good sticks, we’re taking care of the middle and trying not to give them those seam passes, and then if they get shots we’re trying to pounce on the loose pucks and win puck battles,” the goaltender said. “I think everything has been pretty strong, the forecheck and stuff like that. We take a lot of pride in our penalty kill and so far it’s been working. It’s a huge thing throughout the season and especially in the playoffs. You need to have good special teams in order to move forward.”

But the Boston Globe's Amalie Benjamin reports that the Bruins are also concerned about over-taxing their top players...

All those penalties yielded too many minutes played overall by a couple of their penalty killers in Game 2, Zdeno Chara (26:04) and Johnny Boychuk (22:57) in particular. Krejci also played more than 20 minutes (20:33) in Game 2. As Julien said, “We’ve got to be careful. We’ve got to still stay out of the box because at one point, you overutilize certain players and when it gets to be a long series, you need those guys to be as fresh as possible.”

And they'd rather be focusing on improving their 5-on-4 play as they supposedly will continue to make those clutchy-grabby Wings commit interference penalties:

For the Bruins, though, it wasn’t only about the penalty kill. They scored twice on the power play Sunday, getting goals from Reilly Smith and Chara. The power play finished the regular season third in the NHL (21.7 percent), a change after years of lackluster power plays.

Part of that was putting Chara in front of the net. Part of that, too, was the addition of Torey Krug as a quarterback. Both have helped the Bruins turn it around on the man advantage, which was crucial Sunday as they got a goal from each power-play unit.

“I think our power play has been good — as you know, a lot better this year,” Julien said. “And the big thing was, can they continue to produce for us in the playoffs? That’s an important part of the game, and I know we won in the past without having a power play — LA did the same thing.

“Penalty kill to me is extremely important. Our penalty kill right now is doing a pretty good job, but when you have both units being able to do the job right, it helps a lot, and obviously it was a big difference in [Sunday’s] game, the penalty kill being so good and getting those power play goals.”

The Bruins' press spent a significant amount of time on Monday praising Loui Eriksson's resurgent play. WEEI's DJ Bean noted that Reilly Smith's not surprised that his co-trade partner (Ericsson and Smith went to Boston in the Tyler Seguin trade) has found his form...

Reilly Smith knows Eriksson as well as any of his teammates, as the two played together in Dallas before being sent to Boston as the two main pieces acquired by the B’s in the Seguin trade. In Sunday’s Game 2 against the Red Wings, Smith capitalized on Eriksson’s netfront work by jumping into the crease and knocking the puck into the net to give the B’s a 2-0 lead. It came on a power play that followed the expiration of the first penalty of a 5-on-3, but Boston still had its 5-on-3 unit with Eriksson in front on the ice. That goal stood as the game-winner as the B’s went on to claim a 4-1 victory.

That wasn’t Eriksson’s only contribution. The Red Wings haven’t scored against his line and he has been a major part of a penalty kill that has limited the Red Wings to just two shots on goal — none of which have gone in — on six power plays.

In a series that has seen the Red Wings hold the puck plenty, Detroit players have had the 16 best 5-on-5 Corsi (shots attempted while on ice) percentages (Eriksson’s linemate, Justin Florek, is 17th). Yet Eriksson has the second-best CorsiRel (5-on-5 Corsi percentage relative to when he isn’t on the ice) in the series, trailing only Detroit’s Riley Sheahan, who has held his own playing against David Krejci‘s line.

With no goals through the first two games, perhaps Eriksson is back to being underrated. That’s the way it’s been all season, according to his teammates.

“Loui is unbelievable, and I don’€™t think he probably gets the credit he deserves here,” Smith said. “You know he’€™s an unbelievable player, and just because he’€™s been out of the lineup due to injuries this year I think he kind of gets looked over. But he’€™s an ultra-talented guy, and you know as soon as he gets the puck he’€™s doing something special with it.”

And the Boston Herald's Steve Conroy reports that Eriksson's trying to emulate a former Red Wing when he's on the power play:

“I think everyone knows how good a job ([Tomas] Holmstrom) did in front of the net in this league,” said Eriksson, who at 6-2 and 196 pounds is a bit wispier than his countryman. “I think a lot of guys look at that and how he was in front. He always was in front of the goalie and did a good job there. That’s a good guy to watch if you want to learn something about that.”

Eriksson can fill many roles on the power play, but playing in front of the net is something he’s embraced.

“I want to be in front,” Eriksson said yesterday before traveling with the B’s to Detroit for Games 3 and 4 tonight and Thursday. “That’s where the goals are scored, and I thought (in Game 2) some guys did a great job of getting in front. We got some goals from it, and we need to do that.”

The Bruins are also thrilled that Eriksson's delivered while meshing with a new linemate...

Eriksson’s improvement accelerated once he found a home on his line with Carl Soderberg and the injured Chris Kelly. But with Justin Florek in the lineup for Kelly for the foreseeable future, the third line still has created scoring chances in a playoff series in which there have not been many.

“I think it’s going good. I think he’s playing really good,” Eriksson said of Florek. “He’s playing with confidence. It’s nice to see he scored (in Game 2). Kind of lucky, but he’s been doing a good job, and I think we’ve been playing good as a line. We have to keep doing that.”

And the Detroit News's David Goricki noted that, in Florek's case, the Wings are battling a "local" pain in the ass (just like Torey Krug):

Florek, who grew up in Marquette, has given the Bruins a young player capable of putting the puck in the net.

And he did just that in Game 2, taking advantage of Jimmy Howard wandering out of his goal and sending the puck into the net 7 minutes 28 seconds into what eventually became a 4-1 series-tying victory.

“It was a good present there,” said Florek, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound rookie forward. “I was just trying to read him (Howard). It was a lucky bounce. I think it hit the defenseman (Brendan Smith) and right to my stick, so just the right spot at the right time, I guess. It was good to get the team going. I think that was the biggest thing, get some momentum. Hopefully, (that will) carry out through the rest of the series.”

...

Providence last year, scoring 11 goals in 71 games. He started this season with Providence before making his NHL debut Jan. 4, scoring his first goal five days later. But, Florek, who played in four games, is in the lineup more for defense. And, he has helped the Bruins penalty kill, which has shut out the Red Wings (0-for-6) in the series.

“It’s a big part of my game I think, and something I contribute,” Florek said. “It’s great to be able to come up here and do that and be confident with it.”

The Bruins were also quite happy with Kevan Miller's play in his return from a flu bug, as the Boston Globe's Benjamin noted...

Kevan Miller returned to the ice for Game 2 after missing Game 1 because of an illness and played well, registering some big hits to go along with solid defensive play. The defenseman totaled four hits and two blocked shots in 19:52 of ice time.

“I thought he was pretty good,” Julien said. “He was a physical presence out there. He’s a strong individual, we’ve said that. He likes to finish his checks. We saw that part of his game. He kept his game simple but effective. To me, that was a real good showing from a player who didn’t practice much and had gone through a pretty serious virus.”

And the same's true to some extent for Patrice Bergeron, who battled through whatever virus attacked the Bruins' locker room, as CSNNE's Joe Haggerty noted..

Bergeron has played close to 20 minutes in each of the first two games, but admitted he’s still working toward 100 percent.

“The biggest thing it affects is your energy levels,” said Bergeron, who figures to be 100 percent on Tuesday a few more days removed from the nasty illness. “I was hit by it. It’s one of those things that goes away, thank God. It was a pretty good virus this time around, and now it’s about battling through that stuff this time of year.”

Given that Bergeron battled through a punctured lung, separated shoulder and cracked ribs during the Stanley Cup Final last season, the nastiest virus doesn’t stand a chance against him.

But Haggerty found that Julien wanted to keep expectations low regarding the fact that a pair of injured but very, very important players are traveling with the team to Detroit:

Kevan Miller returned to action for Game 2 against the Red Wings. Both Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille will travel with the team to Detroit. And Paille, Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid all skated in an optional non-contact practice on Monday morning at TD Garden.

Matt Bartkowski was also on the ice as he works his way back from the gastrointestinal virus that tore its way through a large part of the roster.

Seidenberg and McQuaid have been skating separately with the Bruins' strength and conditioning staff since the second week of April, but coach Claude Julien thought it would be beneficial for them to get on the ice with their teammates. It hasn’t pushed up the timetable for either player, but did buoy their spirits during a difficult time missing out on playoff games.

“I went to our trainers and asked if it was okay for [Seidenberg] and McQuaid to skate today with the rest of the team,” said Julien. “Because there's no contact, there's nothing, it's just a simple drill so it's the same drills that they did before we went on the ice with that group. They were on early here and stayed on with that group.

“A lot of it is for encouragement reasons. You know, just those two on the ice together all the time, it gets tough after a while. Being out there with more players and being able to do a little bit more is a little bit more exciting for them. I thought, mentally, it would be a good opportunity for them to be with the rest of the guys today because of the type of practice we were having, and our trainers agreed.”

Enough background place-setting information for you? Me, too, but I would be remiss without pointing out that the Bruins also believe that David Krejci will come around, as the Free Press's George Sipple noted--so the Wings have to keep their eyes peeled on many fronts:

David Krejci doesn’t have a point in the first two games of the playoff series against the Red Wings, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t done a lot of good things for the Bruins.

Krecji ended the regular-season with a point in six of the last seven games and scored three goals and six assists for nine points in that stretch.

“At the end of the day, it’s about winning hockey games,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “I’m certainly not going to stand here and say he’s in a slump because he doesn’t have a point in two games. That’s not David. He was good in the face-off circle, much better, much better in a lot of areas. His battle, his mentality, his competitiveness was real good. Again, it’s just a matter of time probably before you see him on the scoresheet.”

Getting back to the heart of the Game 3-context-setting matter, the Boston Herald's Conroy noted that the B's have had many regular-season problems at Joe Louis Arena...

[T]he B's are just one of many teams that have had their issues at the Joe. They have not won there since March 11, 2007, when Dave Lewis was behind the Boston bench. The B's haven't played a ton at the Joe in recent years, mind you, but that's a long time since they've tasted victory. They are 0-4 in Detroit under Claude Julien, including two losses this season. They had their worst loss of the season there — a 6-1 drubbing on Thanksgiving Eve.

“We shouldn’t think about that,” said Patrice Bergeron. “It’s about making sure we turn that around tomorrow. It’s going to be a tight series, a tough series, and we’re expecting them to bounce back tomorrow. So we can’t really start thinking about the building we’re playing in. Obviously it’s about just playing our game and bringing what we’ve done yesterday afternoon to tomorrow’s game.”

But the Bruins have no fears in terms of "playing their game" or playing a solid road game, as they told the Boston Herald's Stephen Harris:

The Bruins had the fourth-best road record in the NHL in the regular season, going 23-12-6, including the stretch from January to March in which they put together a nine-game winning streak, a 13-0-3 points streak and an overall mark of 13-1-4.

There weren’t any big secrets to the success: The B’s merely played their system extremely well, a system that stresses a strong forecheck, diligent backchecking, layers of defenders gumming up the center of the ice, quickly pressuring every puck carrier and forcing rushed plays and turnovers.

“We want to play our game,” defenseman Andrej Meszaros said. “We don’t want to play their game. We have to play tight. There’s less pressure playing on the road than at home. If you want to go all the way, you have to win games on the road. They won here, so we obviously have to go there and get one back. It would be nice to get maybe the first one and see what happens.”

Harris found out that the Bruins are the ones suggesting that using team speed is key to generating scoring chances and forcing the Wings to take penalties...

“Moving (well) is a big part of it,” Julien said. “That’s what we didn’t do well enough in the first game. We didn’t have much speed in the neutral zone. Without speed and your feet moving through the neutral zone, it’s hard to get in on the forecheck. That was a big part of our game that improved (in Game 2). It’s got to be existent in the next games if we’re going to give ourselves a chance.”

For the Bruins, it’s always all about the system, the system, the system — staying focused, disciplined and hungry to execute the X’s and O’s exactly as the coaches draw them up.

“The whole year it’s been just stay in the moment,” backup goalie Chad Johnson said. “Focus on what we need to do to win games, regardless of whether we’re on the road or at home. This team, I think, always loves a challenge and plays better when it’s challenged, (such as) going on the road against teams that maybe have good records.

“It’s pretty simple: You want to have the puck as much as possible and limit the time the team can control the play. Both teams want to have the puck, but I think if we can take away their time and space, whether it’s Detroit or any other team, it forces teams to turn pucks over. We’re playing our game best when we’re right on top of them all night. I think if we can just play the way we like to play, the result should more than likely be there.”

And some of the Bruins' writers felt that "their" team's Game 2 performance answered enough questions to allow the team to consider what will happen when the Bruins face--if we are to believe what we read--an inevitable second-round match-up with the Montreal Canadiens (because no re-seeding = whoever wins this series will play the winner of the Canadiens-Lightning mismatch).

WEEI's DJ Bean broached the subject...

"That’€™s their series. We’€™re worried about ours right now,” Claude Julien said Monday. “Our players shouldn’€™t worry about that. As coaches, you worry about your team but you also are allowed to watch and prepare in a certain way by watching the other series as well, so I don’€™t think it’€™s a big issue.

“I know that there were times in the past where we were done and we had to watch a couple of different series because we didn’€™t know, depending on who would win, who we’€™d play, so there’€™s no doubt it’€™s a lot clearer now. We don’€™t have to look too far to find out who our next opponents could be, but at the same time, it’€™s about getting out of this one here, and right now it’€™s a 1-1 tied series that, to me, has the potential to go a long ways.”

Most people outside of Detroit would probably want to see the B’s and Habs meet in the playoffs for the first time since their classic first-round series in 2011 in which the B’s came back after dropping the first two games at home, blew a 3-2 series lead and eventually advanced on Nathan Horton‘s overtime game-winner in Game 7.

For now, the Bruins have much, much bigger fish to fry with the Red Wings. Still, knowing that they could potentially have the Habs up next has to be some sort of distraction and one that hasn’t existed for them. Sure, they knew in 2011 while they played the Lightning that they would play the Sharks or Canucks for the Stanley Cup if they won, and they had the same idea last season with the Blackhawks and Kings, but that was much later. Now it’s something they have to block out each round.

Despite knowing that the Habs may be next, one Quebec native hasn’t let the other series become a distraction for him during this one.

“Right now, honestly, for myself — I haven’€™t asked any of the guys — it’€™s not,” Patrice Bergeron said Monday. “I think we’€™re really so focused on playing that series that you don’€™t really think about anything else. You obviously follow the scores and the games, but I don’€™t necessarily think about that.”

And yes, CSNNE's Joe Haggerty discussed the possibility as well:

With the new playoff format installed for this season, there will be some adjustments and interesting situations brewing for all of the Stanley Cup playoff teams. The divisional rounds have already spurred on plenty of conversation, and the Bruins seem to be one of the test cases given their possible collision course with the arch-rival Montreal Canadiens in the second round.

One could make an easy argument that the Bruins couldn’t have had a more difficult road in the first two rounds of the playoffs than potentially going through Detroit and Montreal, and that isn’t really befitting the team that worked excellently all season to secure the NHL’s best record.

But that’s fodder for discussions at GM meetings down the line in some sunny locale. The Bruins are locked in a first round series tied at 1-1 with the Detroit Red Wings headed back to the Motor City for a pair of games, but the Habs have taken a commanding 3-0 lead on a Tampa Bay Lightning beset by issues and injuries. Ben Bishop going down right before the series started was a killer for the Bolts, and Steven Stamkos was a bit foggy after taking a knee to the head in Game 3 on Sunday night.

It appears all but a certainty that the Canadiens will move on to the second round to face the winner of the Bruins/Red Wings series, and the Bruins have experienced plenty of issues with the Habs over the last two seasons.

...

No word on whether the 2-5-1 record compiled by the Bruins against Detroit and Montreal this season is keeping Julien up at night knowing how they’d be the 1-2 combo in the postseason.

Let's move on to the Wings' side of the story, starting with NHL.com's Matt Kalman's balanced game preview:

Big story: The Red Wings accomplished what they wanted. The Eastern Conference's second wild card earned a split on the road to open this first-round series against the Boston Bruins, the Presidents' Trophy winners. The Red Wings were unable to hold down the Bruins for two straight games, as Boston bounced back from a shutout loss in Game 1 with a 4-1 win in Game 2. The two games couldn't have been more different in terms of the team that set the tone throughout, and that will be a focal point again in pivotal Game 3.

Bruins [team scope]: Boston has lost its last four visits to Joe Louis Arena, including two this season. The Bruins haven't won at The Joe since March 11, 2007. In bouncing back for their Game 2 victory, the Bruins set the physical tone early with some big hits from defenseman Kevan Miller and forward Milan Lucic. Physicality and defense typically leads to more scoring chances for the Bruins, and that was the case in Game 2. Now they have to apply those aspects of the game to earn a road victory.

"When you play one game, I don't think it speaks much about the series. We have to go in there and make sure we continue to do those things well," Bruins defenseman Torey Krug said. "I don't think we can say we are comfortable. I think we understand what it takes to beat these guys, and I think if we play like that we will have success this series."

...

Red Wings [team scope]: Detroit coach Mike Babcock liked his team's start in Game 2, but he was disappointed with how the Red Wings played over the last two periods. Most of all, he was frustrated with how his players allowed the Bruins to distract them from the game during post-whistle scrums. Goaltender Jimmy Howard was also disenchanted with his teammates' decision-making in that realm.

...

In addition to staying away from the extracurricular activities, the Red Wings will need to get star forward Pavel Datsyuk free from the matchup with Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara. Being on home ice should make that easier for Detroit with the second change.

Who's hot: Rask has stopped 57 of 59 shots in the series for the Bruins, a .966 save percentage. … Red Wings forward Luke Glendening scored his second career NHL goal and his first in the playoffs for their lone Game 2 tally.

Again, if we are to believe Brendan Smith, it was Zdeno Chara who started what ended up as a comical mismatch, but Smith didn't just defend his doofiness on Monday. As the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa notes (as part of a much longer examination of this series' physical nature), Smith addressed the concept of the Bruins' attempts to bully as well as bulldoze the Wings.

This is particularly appropriate given that the Bruins have explicitly stated that they're targeting Smith:

[T]he Red Wings who can, do. But they must pick their spots and execute their particular brand of deterrence carefully.

That has nothing to do with “playing the Bruins kind of game.” It is the Red Wings kind of game: speed, skill, enough fortitude to execute all the details of their meticulous plan and enough toughness to defeat big, physical teams in the playoffs.

“Sometimes you’re trying to back up some of your teammates and maybe even take care of yourself, in a sense,” Brendan Smith said. “It’s a series to win. It’s not a UFC match out there. We’re not trying to fight each other. We’re going out there to put pucks in the net and win that series. You’ve got to be disciplined. That is one of the biggest things about hockey, if you retaliate, you end up in the box.”

And, Smith well understands what the Bruins are attempting. He said he might be even more cautious, next time.

“Obviously, they try to intimidate me and try to get under my skin and make sure that I take penalties,” he said. “You watch Pavel. They’re always trying to crosscheck him in the back. They’re trying to target anyone, get anyone off their game.”

As the Wings traded "roughing" penalties with the B's on Saturday, the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness asked a pair of players what the team can do to keep its composure...

Of the seven penalties the Wings drew Sunday, four were for roughing.

“Emotions are running high,” Darren Helm said. “(Milan) Lucic said it pretty well after he got (Danny) DeKeyser, emotions sometimes get the best of you. Last night I thought that’s what happened. Emotions are running high, we got into some scrums that we shouldn’t be getting into. We’re a team that plays between the whistles, not after the whistles.”

“It’s a lot of emotions out there,’ Nyquist said. “It’s the playoffs. They like to get involved after the whistles a lot. We’re standing up for ourselves. It’s just how it is in the playoffs. There are a lot of emotions.”

Without repeating Babcock's pool hall-pretty girl metaphor, the Detroit News's John Niyo asked a few more Wings whether they'd gotten their stuff together after learning the hard way that this isn't a Western Conference series in terms of the kind of checking the Tomas Tatars and Gustav Nyquists of the world are enduring...

[As] Tatar acknowledged Monday, “We got a lesson in Game 2.”

The Red Wings got caught up in playing the Bruins’ game, goaded at times and simply coming unglued at others, picking up three roughing minors in the first period alone.

“That’s their game, right?” said Tatar, who got into it with Bruins forward Brad Marchand in one of Game 2’s many scrums. “We just have to ignore it. I know sometimes you can’t. … But most of the time, you should just walk away.”

Better yet: Run, don’t walk. Especially with the inconsistent officiating that now seems to be a hallmark of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Red Wings aren’t going to win unless they’re dictating the tempo, or at least trying to, at all times.

“We have speedy guys in here,” said Nyquist, who certainly qualifies as one. “We like to skate. We know as a team that’s one of our strengths, to really use our speed. And Boston’s got pretty big (defensemen) and a big team overall, so against a team like that you want to skate as much as possible.”

Speed kills, sure. But so does traffic. And understanding that is the real obstacle for young players in the NHL this time of year. Nyquist, for one, claims he does.

“Obviously, I’ll try to use my speed a little bit more and shoot the puck and try to get on the inside,” he said, when asked what has to change beginning tonight. “I’ve got to spin off those big guys and get in front of the net. That’s where the goals are gonna be scored. And that’s something I have to control, for sure.”

Babcock addressed Nyquist's sudden scoring slump while speaking with the Macomb Daily's Pleiness...

“It’s not even scoring, you’ve got to compete, you’ve got to get playing like you can,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Anytime you’ve been through it, and now suddenly instead of being a guy nobody ever heard of, like last year in the playoffs, you’re a guy they’ve heard of.

“His space is probably a little harder to come by,” Babcock continued. “You’ve just got to find your game.”

Tomas Tatar was second in goals with 19.

“The thing I know about Nyquie is he always seems to find his game,” Babcock said. “I’m not concerned. I had a chat with him (Sunday) night on the plane. I expect him to be very good.”

But Babcock also left the questions about Johan Franzen's lack of hands in those Easton gloves (seriously: he switched back to Eastons from Warrior gloves, and that's when he went cold) and Jimmy Howard's composure for another day--probably today's post-morning skate availability.

As an aside: It's also really funny to watch and listen to Babcock having to put up with the playoff protocol of giving press conferences from a dais. He's so much more comfortable in front of the Wings' TV (Red Wings and Meijer curtain draped over it), speaking with the press for as long as he's comfortable, and then tossing off a, "See you guys" instead of having to sit there until the questions start to ebb.

Anyway, the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan certainly had no problem listing Franzen and Howard's struggles as two of the "Five keys to a Red Wings victory"...

Get the offense going: A rate of one goal per game isn’t going to take the Red Wings very far in this series. They won’t go far, either, if some of their players don’t get going. Players like Johan Franzen (one goal in 20 games dating back to regular season), Daniel Alfredsson (one goal in 13 games), and Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar (both shut out in eight games).

This Red Wings team doesn’t have an abundance of offense like the old days. Franzen, Alfredsson, Nyquist and Tatar need to be on the scoresheet for the Wings to win.

Some quality chances have been there in the first two games, but the Red Wings simply haven’t buried them. A power play goal could do wonders, as well.

...

Jimmy Howard: Jimmy Howard was outstanding in Game 1, blanking the Bruins and looking as confident as he ever has in the playoffs. Howard was a notch below that Sunday.

Goaltending is always a hot-button issue in the playoffs and Howard needs to regain the upper hand in his duel with Boston’s Tuukka Rask.

The Free Press's Helene St. James took a different tack, asking the Wings how they feel about being tied 1-1 with 2 home games in front of them...

"It's a 1-1 series after leaving Boston, tough team, tough building to play in," Darren Helm said Monday. "I think we're happy about what we did there. We played a real solid game in the first and got away from it in the second. We believe that if we play the way we can, we'll have a better opportunity than we did in the last game."

...

"When we're skating hard and playing fast and really moving the puck, that that's to our benefit. They play a physical game and that's their game. We want to play with more speed and more the puck,” DeKeyser said. “I think we're in a pretty good spot, coming home with this series at 1-1."

The Bruins made adjustments after losing, as will the Wings. This time of year generally comes down to that, as Babcock pointed out.

"I've been here nine years, we've done this nine times, you go through it each and every year,” Babcock said. “You get in a series and you adjust and keep going. For our team to be effective, we have to do exactly what we do."

Before St. James suggested that the Wings' most necessary "adjustment," save getting the power play going, involves returning to the basics Red Wings hockey:

The most disappointing minutes Sunday for Babcock weren't the first goal, or the second goal — it was the third one, scored by Lucic, minutes after the Wings had gotten the score to where they wanted, 2-1, with a whole third period still to play.

"Even though it was a little ugly and stuff was happening, it was a 2-1 game for a while," Smith said. "It looked like we maybe could’ve tied it up except for that mistake on their third goal, which made it harder on us. We did what we didn’t want to do, and we can correct that in the next few games and that’s going to be good for us.”

For the past month, the Wings have spoken of how they control their destiny — that it was up to how they play whether they would even get into the playoffs. Now they're in the playoffs, against the most well-rounded team in the NHL — and need to keep the same perspective.

The Free Press's Evil Drew Sharp is himself this morning...

The image won’t vanish anytime soon. The big, bad school playground bully laughingly stiff-arming his much smaller pursuer with a 7-footer’s horizontal reach, mocking his combatant as much as managing him. A day later, Brendan Smith accepted that bowing to frustration and attempting to fight 6-foot-9 Boston captain Zdeno Chara following the first period in Game 2 wasn’t exactly one of his smarter decisions.

I asked Smith Monday following practice: “What the hell were you thinking?”

Instinctively, Smith said: “It’s playoff hockey.”

But Sharp ended up suggesting that the Wings need to re-engage their brains to beat the Bruins--and to play their smartest hockey exactly when the Bruins encourage them to do the dumbest things due to the "heat of the moment"--and he's spot-on:

Though it contradicts the deeply engrained psychology of playoff hockey, not fighting isn’t backing down. It isn’t a sign of weakness, nor is it indicative of a lack of desire. Are you smart enough — are you disciplined enough — to trust what you know you do best, regardless of the taunting and teasing?

Are you tough and confident enough to appreciate what matters most?

It shouldn’t be that hard for the Wings to figure out. They were magnificent in their own end in Game 1, efficiently moving the puck out of their zone and limiting the quantity of quality shots fired at Jimmy Howard. Their speed pushed the Bruins’ offense farther away from Howard, turning them into more of a perimeter team.

Game 2 flipped the script. The Bruins got more physically aggressive, taking the play much deeper into the attacking zone. It choked off the Wings’ breathing room, resulting in a loss of focus and poise — and in Smith’s case with Chara, a momentary loss in sound judgment.

If the Wings can’t regain that focus tonight in Game 3, they’ll potentially face an even greater loss.

That's very true, but the Wings hope that they'll have a very big player on their side tonight, as the AP's Larry Lage noted:

The Red Wings took home-ice advantage by opening the series with a 1-0 victory on Pavel Datsyuk's dazzling play and sharp shot, and they hope to keep it by winning Game 3 on Tuesday night and Game 4 on Thursday night. After the first two games were split on the road, Smith insisted where games are played do play a factor. "For sure, it matters," Smith said. "I any series, home ice matters. ... I think coming back home is going to help us a lot."

I hope so.

In the multimedia department, the Free Press's Julian H. Gonzalez posited a 16-image practice gallery, and if you missed it...

The Red Wings posted YouTube videos of comments from Gustav Nyquist...

Justin Abdelkader...

Tomas Tatar...

Darren Helm...

Brendan Smith...

Danny DeKeyser...

And coach Babcock:

 

Red Wings and Bruins notebooks and also of Red Wings-related note: The Toronto Sun's Rob Longley got "the other side's" take on Smith-vs-Chara...

Brendan Smith’s near tangle with Chara on Sunday drew some chuckles, given the physical mismatch and the fact that the big Bruin isn’t a regular scrapper.

“He wouldn’t be the first guy I’d choose in the NHL to go against,” Reilly Smith said following Sunday’s game. “He should probably think twice, next time. I don’t think Chara’s too worried about squaring off against my brother. ”

While Brendan Smith has emerged as a solid defenceman for the Wings, Reilly Smith has been a productive return on the deal that sent Tyler Sequin to the Dallas Stars. With 20 goals and 31 assists in his first full NHL season, the upside would appear considerable.

“The Bruins have given me a great opportunity here,” Reilly Smith said. “They’ve let me play with good players like Patrice Bergeron on an everyday basis and I’m getting tidbits on every shift and picking up everything I can. I try to learn something every day.”

And he spoke to a different voice regarding the Wings' special teams issues:

Detroit was 0-for-4 on the power play in Game 2 while the B’s scored a pair with the man advantage.

“Specialty teams have got to be better, our penalty kill and our power play got to be better, and 5-on-5 there’s not going to be much between the two teams,” Wings forward Justin Abdelkader said. “Both teams play with really good structure. So specialty teams got to be good this time of year, it’s critical.”

The Boston Herald's Steve Conroy noted the following:

Although Milan Lucic argued that David Krejci’s empty-net goal should have counted because he tagged up to nullify the offside before the puck went in, his argument proved wrong.

Rule 83.4 states, when a goal is scored in a tag-up situation “the fact that the attacking team may have cleared the zone prior to puck entering the goal has no bearing on this ruling.”

If there was any really discouraging news on Monday, it came from Jonathan Ericsson, who told MLive's Brendan Savage and others that his broken finger is still a bit of a mess:

He underwent surgery March 19 to stabilize fractures in his finger and repair a partially torn tendon suffered in a 3-2 victory over Toronto. He still has a splint on his hand.

"I can't handle any pucks or makes passes, so there's no use in me being out there" in practice, Ericsson said Monday. "I can grab (a stick) with my one finger and thumb so I have it in my hand. But I can't grab the stick with the finger that I hurt. I can move the tip of the finger a little bit right now. I can try to work on that so it gets more mobile every day. Other than that it's pretty much stuck there in the splint. That's the whole point, too, because I'm not allowed to move the tendon too much."

Ericsson said he's scheduled to have the finger reexamined this week and that more X-rays will be taken to determine how well the injuries are healing.

Ericsson apparenlty needs more pins taken out of his finger before he can proceed:

"I'm going to see the hand doctor again sometime this week," Ericsson said. "I haven't found out a time yet but we'll get new X-rays and see how the bones are aligned and see about the tendon and all of that. I don't know if he can tell anything but I got to see what he says before I can think about anything else."

If you're interested, the Free Press posted a replay of the chat Fox Sports Detroit's Chris Osgood took part in on Monday morning...

And the Free Press's Steve Schrader noted this:

Remember when Red Wings playoff campaigns had theme songs? Fan Keith Laurin of Canton has written a song he’d like to see fill that void: “Octopi Will Fly,” which was made into a video on YouTube with the help of friends.

He has a day job, but Laurin said songwriting has been a passion for him the past several years. “I’m a very amateur songwriter,” he said.

A couple of months ago, Laurin sent his song to Reed Spring, an Ann Arbor native who’s the lead singer of a Lexington, Ky., band called Suitcase to Vegas. Laurin said Spring rocked it up some, and then Ryan Stamm of Canton-based Stammina Productions made it into the video featuring scenes of Detroit, the Wings and, yes, octopi flying at the Joe.

“Everybody that has heard it absolutely loves it,” Laurin said.

He said his goal is to get it on iTunes and donate proceeds to charity.

It's definitely different than, "Throw Your Wings Up"...

Just remember that if you do throw an octopus at the Joe, you're going to get tossed from the game by security, and if they catch you doing it again, you get banned from the Joe.

I don't know if the NHL's asked the Detroit Police to reinstate the $500 fine and misdemeanor for disorderly conduct for the playoffs, either, but given the City's financial state, I wouldn't be surprised if somebody gets arrested and told they've got a couple weeks to find a lawyer and prepare for a court date at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice.

Also: if you're willing to deal with all of those possible consequences, BOIL THE DAMN THING. Seafood stinks if you don't cook it before you stuff it in your shorts for a couple hours--and while most sea creatures are covered in a layer of protective mucus, just like we've got mucus, octopi are particularly goopy and slimy. So boil it for 30 minutes before sticking it in your shorts.

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Comments

Rdwings28's avatar

when do we find out who the “striped villains” are?

Posted by Rdwings28 on 04/22/14 at 06:25 AM ET

t$w$'s avatar

George are you serious with the “near must win” comment???

It’s GAME THREE show some faith bro

Posted by t$w$ on 04/22/14 at 07:53 AM ET

Figaro's avatar

I’m glad the Bruins are already looking ahead to the next round.  That will make our dispatching of them that much more devastating.

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 04/22/14 at 08:30 AM ET

WingedRider's avatar

Near must win, for me is more of putting some doubt in the B’s head and slowing down their antics.

Although a good PP would help and Z.  Change it up to what Renney tried at the start of the season with 2 D and a F high, easier to find open lanes… who knows.  Speed and not getting involved with goofy stuff will help.

LGRW

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 04/22/14 at 09:06 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

...with Pavel Datsyuk and Daniel Alfredsson back healthy, the Red Wings power play should provide a stiff test for any team, let alone one missing two of its key penalty killers.

As long as Franzen is playing anywhere near the point on the 1st PP unit (as he has been lately), it’s doomed to failure. He can’t hold pucks in. He can’t skate with the puck. And he can’t pass worth a damn. All the Bruins have to do is slightly pressure him and he loses the puck.

Franzen belongs in front of the net on the PP. Let him get hacked and whacked for a minute or so and maybe, just maybe, it’ll get him pissed off enough to actually get involved in the game. Right now, he’s just a spectator out there.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 04/22/14 at 09:24 AM ET

Figaro's avatar

Franzen is afraid of the front of the net.  Poor guy might get hit by a puck…

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 04/22/14 at 09:25 AM ET

Avatar

George are you serious with the “near must win” comment???

It’s GAME THREE show some faith bro

It’s GAME THREE of a seven game series, not an 82 game season and it’s the first home game.

You’re damn right it’s a must win.

Posted by Garth on 04/22/14 at 10:16 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Come here, Garth, give me a hug…Erm…firm handshake…Erm…rare nod of agreement?

wink  raspberry LOL

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 04/22/14 at 10:18 AM ET

SYF's avatar

when do we find out who the “striped villains” are?

Posted by Rdwings28 on 04/22/14 at 07:25 AM ET

How ‘bout now?

Referees:
25-Marc Joannette       <===========
33-Kevin Pollock         <===========

Linesmen:
68-Scott Driscoll
92-Mark Shewchyk

Holy fuch…

Posted by SYF from The Revenge of Johnny E on 04/22/14 at 10:58 AM ET

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About The Malik Report

The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.