The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/12/14 at 10:27 PM ET
I wasn't feeling particularly well so I took a rare Saturday siesta, but my hockey spider sense told me that between 9:40 and 10:30, I needed to stir, so here I am...And it turns out that the Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Florida Panthers 3-2, and will finish with a better record than Detroit, so no matter what happens tomorrow against St. Louis, the Wings will battle the Boston Bruins in the 1st round as the 2nd Wild Card seed.
As I recall, the first round will start on Thursday, and the Wings did take 3 of 4 regular season games from Boston, though the playoffs are a completely different animal.
The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa confirms...
The Wings will finish in the eighth seed, regardless of the outcome of their game Sunday against the Blues.
This season, the Bruins have largely returned to the form that carried them to the Stanley Cup three seasons ago. They are a powerful offensive team with considerable size and physicality that stresses defense under coach Claude Julien.
They have the widest goal differential in the NHL, scoring 85 more than they have yielded — 26 goals more than the Ducks, with the second highest differential.
But the Red Wings are a faster team, especially with the addition of Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco to the lineup, and the returns from injury of Darren Helm and Pavel Datsyuk, despite Datsyuk’s creaky knee.
Indeed, the Wings beat the Bruins in three of four meetings this season.
As does the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness, via RedWingsFeed...
Because of Columbus’ 3-2 win over Florida Saturday night and Philadelphia’s win over Pittsburgh, Detroit can’t climb any higher than the second wild card spot and thus will face the Boston Bruins, who will finish with the best record in the league after topping Buffalo on Saturday.
“Just play well,” Jimmy Howard said when asked what the team’s approach would be to the regular season finale in St. Louis. “You want to feel good about yourself going into the playoffs. It’s as simple as that.”
Had the Wings gotten the top wild card spot they would have played Pittsburgh.
“It shouldn’t be,” Niklas Kronwall said when asked if it’s hard to perhaps overlook this game. “We’ve got some things we need to work on so this would be a good time to do it.”
The Wings could have been a step closer to assuring them the top wild spot if it wasn’t for their loss Friday to the lowly Carolina Hurricanes, 2-1.
“I don’t think we played bad by any means,” Howard said. “It was one of those things where we’ve been playing playoff hockey for almost two months and we finally got a place in the playoffs and took our foot off the gas a little bit. You could see it out there.”
Detroit is 3-1-0 this season against the Bruins. The series will begin Thursday with game two taking place Saturday. Games three and four will be April 21 and 23 at Joe Louis Arena. Times will be announced later.
The Free Press's Helene St. James...
Who's who up front for Bruins: Patrice Bergeron is a front-runner for the 2014 Selke Trophy, he's that good of an all-around forward. He's 30 goals and 62 points in 80 games, along with a plus-38 rating. Veteran Jarome Iginla is playing like a 20-something, and is another 30-goal scorer. Other dangerous offensive players are Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand and David Krejci, along with Reilly Smith, brother of Detroit's Brendan Smith. They also have Loui Eriksson, another exceptional two-way player.
Who's who on the back end: Zdeno Chara is a Goliath on skates, and skilled to boot. Opposing goaltenders can't look over or around him, and opposing forwards can't move him. Best strategy is to stealthily make sure he can't lift his stick. Chara is guaranteed to be a Norris Trophy finalist, with 40 points and a plus-25 rating. The Bruins defense on the whole is elite, with former Spartan Torey Krug another 40-point player, as well as Dougie Hamilton and Johnny Boychuk and Matt Bartkowski.
Who's who in goal: The Bruins could feast at the NHL Awards show this summer, because Olympic bronze medalist Tuukka Rask is a slam-dunk Vezina finalist after going 36-15-6 with a 2.04 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.
What's the key for the Wings: They are the only team to have beaten the Bruins three times this season in regulation. The last time two times they did it, the Wings didn't even have Pavel Datsyuk in the lineup. If the Wings stick to what works for them - structure and hard work - they'll be fine.
MLive's Ansar Khan...
The series will start Thursday night at the TD Garden. Game 2 is expected to be Saturday afternoon. Games 3 and 4 are expected to be at Joe Louis Arena on Monday, April 21 and Wednesday, April 23.
The entire playoff schedule will be released Sunday night.
The Red Wings, who wrap up the regular season Sunday at St. Louis (12:30 p.m., NBC) won the season series from the Bruins 3-1, outscoring them 13-9. Detroit won the final three games against their Atlantic Division rival (3-2, 6-1 and 3-2) after losing 4-1 in the first meeting.
These historic franchises haven't met in the postseason since 1957, when the Bruins eliminated the Red Wings in the semifinals (4-1) during the six-team era.
Boston has reached the Stanley Cup final twice in the past three seasons, beating Vancouver in seven games in 2011 and losing to Chicago in six games in 2013.
And 97.1 the Ticket's Ken Kal:
Brendan Smith's laid down the gauntlet regarding the battle against his brother Reilly, too:
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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.