If the Detroit Red Wings are going to upset the Presidents Cup-winning Boston Bruins in the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, they’re going to need excellent goaltending and timely plays from the most skilled members of their forward corps.
Datsyuk was one of the many Red Wings to miss time to injury during the regular season, and while they managed to make the postseason for the 23rd straight time without him in the lineup every night, his Game 1 heroics proved why he’s one of the best in the business. After reaching behind him to corral an errant Johan Franzen pass in the Detroit end, Datsyuk dragged the puck to himself in the neutral zone, made several dekes after crossing the Boston blue line and snapped a shot past Tuukka Rask for the game’s lone goal.
It was the kind of game where a special play like that was necessary to have any chance to score. Rask and Howard took turns foiling any and all scoring chances, though both goalies had some trouble with rebound control in the scoreless first period.
The Red Wings got two power plays in the first 40 minutes but set up few opportunities as the Bruins committed themselves to blocking shots. Darren Helm had the best chance to break the scoreless deadlock early in the third period when he skated into position to gather a juicy rebound, but Rask went left-to-right and denied him with a stellar pad save.
Howard matched those heroics during the hosts’ first power play, scrambling and getting help from his defensemen to keep pucks sitting perilously near the Detroit crease from going in. Boston turned up the pressure as the clock ran down to the final 10 minutes, and the Bruins just missed on a deflection chance right before Datsyuk performed his magic.
Along with the result, Mike Babcock has to be happy with the problems the Red Wings gave the Bruins with their speed and depth. It’s only one game, but all of a sudden it’s the best squad in the East that looks like it could be suffering without some of its key players, including forwards Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille.
Detroit will have to be wary about some serious push-back during Game 2 on Sunday afternoon, but after the opening night of this playoff run, everything is going according to plan.
The game was over when …
With all due respect to excellent Boston forwards like Patrice Bergeron and Jarome Iginla, the goal by Datsyuk was one that only a handful of NHL players could have pulled off. Thankfully, one of them wears number 13 for the Red Wings.
The unsung Red Wings hero was …
Danny DeKeyser, and not just for shrugging off Milan Lucic‘s attempt to draw him into some rough stuff. DeKeyser did more than his fair share of things to help Howard preserve the shutout, including blocking a team-high three shots and taking a shorthanded shift in what turned out to be a critical penalty kill.