Apr 20, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock points to the ice during the third period against the Boston Bruins in game two of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Banknorth Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

What the Red Wings Have to Do to Beat the Bruins


 

The Detroit Red Wings were able to “steal”, as many people around the hockey world will say, Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in TD Garden. However, it wasn’t much of a steal it all. Considering the huge ice tilt in Boston’s favor, with Henrik Zetterberg and Jonathan Ericsson missing from the 8th seed team facing the best team in the league , the Red Wings deserved every bit of the win. The defense was almost in complete shutdown mode, the forwards were creating constant chances, and Howard stood on his head for the 1-0 shutout. Not to mention, Datsyuk had the most impressive goal I’ve seen this year:

 

An AHL team came out to beat the league favorite and took the early series lead.  However, Detroit’s adrenaline rush would not last long, as they were shut down in Game 2, losing 4-1 What went wrong? Why was Game 2 such a train wreck? What can Detroit do to possibly win the series?

 

The Boston Bruins have been notorious in the past several years for being a rugged, rough, and rowdy team. They play relentlessly physical, and I’m sure you’ve seen the term “subtle interference” float around on the internet as of late. The physical game wears down the opposing team, and the talent in players like Patrice Bergeron, Johnny Boychuk, and Zdeno Chara can exploit the weak teams.

 

The key to beating Boston is not trying to match the physicality. The Detroit Red Wings are now a young team, full of young, rambunctious “kids” who have endless drive and energy. Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, and Luke Glendening are fighting hard to become the eventual faces of Detroit, and are a crucial piece of winning this series. In Game 1, the Wings exemplified the puck possession style of hockey. They were able to enter the zone, pass the puck effectively, and most importantly, sustain consistent offensive pressure.  Before a Bruin could get to a Detroit forward, he was passed by the man in red, or the puck was moved elsewhere. Detroit was able to avoid most physicality thrown at them.

 

In the back-end, Detroit was solid at the blue line. Boston, for the most part, had a heck of a time entering the zone. Almost every Boston possession was followed by Detroit forming a wall along the blue line, sucking up the majority of Bruin chances. The Detroit defensemen hustled and smartly played the puck often instead of taking themselves out of position to make risky hits, and when the defense failed, Howard effectively bailed them out without a single fault. THAT is how they need to play the rest of this series.

 

Detroit did not follow-up with the same performance in Game 2, which was dominated by Boston. Just short of everything Detroit did well in Game 1 disappeared from their gameplan. Boston took an early 2-0 lead, and eventually won the game 4-1. The first goal was a product of a horrible play by Jimmy Howard. The Detroit netminder tried playing the puck between the dots with some oncoming Boston pressure, but instead of playing it off of the glass, he tried to saucer it to center ice. It then hit Brendan Smith, and fell right into Justin Florek‘s hands. The biggest fault of Detroit was falling to Boston’s level, and trying to match their physical game.  The Red Wings took 7 penalties that game, 4 of which were roughing minors. They were distracted from their Game 1 finesse (SURPRISE, I’m actually Doc Emrick) and fell right into Boston’s hands. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Detroit’s defense was guilty of gawking like I’ve never seen before, leading to a couple awful goals, and the power play is downright terrible. The Wings were 0-4 with the man advantage in both Game 1 and Game 2, and allowed Boston to score twice last night. Scoring against Boston full strength is no easy task.

 

The series goes to Detroit tomorrow night for the next two games. This is the perfect opportunity for Detroit to take control of the series, and hopefully buy some more time for Henrik Zetterberg to return. The Red Wings can take advantage of the electric Joe Louis Arena crowd, just as the Columbus Blue Jackets are doing against the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight, scoring 2 goals in 3 minutes. Have no mercy against the Bruins, maintain puck possession, cycle the puck in the offensive zone, play shutdown defense, keep the play between the whistles, and go all “2012 Los Angeles Kings” on the Bruins.

 

You walk into a bar and there’s a beautiful girl next to this 6’5″ monster who you know makes his living fighting. You’re going to play pool or fight – Mike Babcock

 

Oh yeah, and definitely don’t try to fight Chara, under any circumstances.
Let’s go Red Wings!

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Tags: Boston Bruins Detroit Red Wings