For the first time in 57 years these two original 6 franchises will meet in a playoff series. The top ranked Boston Bruins face the Detroit Red Wings, who qualified as the final wild card team.
The Red Wings have won the last 3 meetings between the clubs this season. The Bruins took the first meeting early on, but Detroit responded with a pair of 3-2 wins surrounding a 6-1 drubbing.
Tuukaa Rask is probably the best and most consistent goaltender in the league, while fellow Olympian Jimmy Howard can be equally good but is not quite as consistent.
The leaders of their respective blue lines are rock-solid, with Zdeno Chara having another Norris-caliber season and Niklas Kronwall finishing 2nd on the Red Wings in scoring in addition to solid defensive play.
Boston finished 2nd in the league in goals against, while the Red Wings were in the middle of the pack.
Injuries to almost every top player in the Red Wings (Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Daniel Alfredsson) organization hampered their ability to score, and as a result they didn’t have a 60 point scorer. It did allow players like Gustav Nuquist and Tomas Tatar the opportunity to get prime minutes and speed their development.
The Bruins didn’t have anyone in the top 10 of scoring, but finished 3rd in the league in goals. It is a testament to their depth and scoring by committee. Their top 6 scorers all topped 50 points.
Boston has a definite edge here, with both of their special teams units in the top ten. Their power play is ranked 3rd and the penalty kill 8th. The Red Wings were more average in odd-man situations, with the 12th ranked PK and 18th ranked PP.
Mike Babcock has worked wonders with a patchwork lineup on many nights, with only 3 forwards playing as many as 70 games.
Claude Julien worked with Babcock behind the bench for Team Canada’s gold medal winning team and the two know each other well.
- The Bruins came oh so close last season, but fell short against the Blackhawks. It is tough to get back, but the Bruins have been dominant.
- Daniel Alfredsson led the Red Wings in scoring, with 49 points. The comparisons between him and Jarome Iginla will be prevalent, as both aging veterans are searching for their first Stanley Cup with new franchises after many years with Ottawa and Calgary respectively.
Despite the fact that the Red Wings had the Bruins’ number this season, Boston is the stronger, healthier, deeper team. It won’t be easy and it is a very tough first round matchup, but the Bruins should advance
BRUINS IN 7
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