The road to the Stanley Cup starts Friday for the Detroit Red Wings against the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Boston Bruins. It’s the first playoff meeting between the two Original Six rivals in 57 years. Game 1 of the Atlantic division quarterfinal will be shown on NBC Sports at 7:30PM. Games will be played every other day after that until a winner is crowned in this best of 7 series.
Instead of doing a traditional preview that breaks down each position and the key match-ups for the series (like almost every preview being published is doing), I have decided to just share my thoughts across the board on what should be the deciding factors in this series and try to justify why I think the Detroit Red Wings are going knock off the almighty Bruins.
There are many factors that make this series interesting, but at the top of the list are the two contrasting styles of play. The Red Wings rely on puck possession and speed. While the Bruins counter with a very physical game plan. Playoff hockey favors the hitting and board play, but the Red Wings were able to avoid getting beat up by the bully in the regular season. The season series can’t be overlooked. Almost every game was played like a playoff game and the Wings won 3 out of the 4.
How do you avoid getting hit? Run and don’t let them catch you.
When it comes down to it, whichever team can enforce their style of play the longest is going to win this series. It’s that simple.
Rask vs. Howard
The only way style of play isn’t the deciding factor will fall on the shoulders of the goaltenders. Goalies can single-handedly win games and even series when they are hot or end the team’s season in frustration if they are cold. The advantage here belongs to Tuukka Rask but Jimmy Howard, especially as of late, is trending upward and has been making the necessary highlight reel saves.
Rask is 21-14 in 35 playoff games with a 2.14 goals against average per game. Howard is 20-22 in 42 postseason starts with a 2.57 goals against average per game.
The last factor in determining who wins this series is going to be who gets rid of the playoff jitters the fastest. This is what heavily favors the Boston Bruins to win this series and make a deep run at the Cup. They are the defending Eastern Conference Champions and the best team in the NHL (record wise) entering the playoffs. In other words, on paper and in the eyes of the “experts” this series is David vs. Goliath.
Of the 13 analysts on ESPN.com, 13 of them picked the Bruins to beat the Wings in 6 or 7 games.
Of the 8 analysts on NHL.com, 8 of them picked the Bruins to beat the Wings. 4 of them have the Bruins winning the Stanley Cup.
I guess Hockeytown should just throw in the towel then and let the Bruins advance to the next round. I mean only one 8-seed has ever won the Stanley Cup (2012 Los Angeles Kings) and very few manage to get out of the 1st round.
No. This is not your typical 8 seed, or final wildcard spot as it’s called now. The Wings have a style of play that counters the Bruins. They have a goaltender in Jimmy Howard that is capable of getting hot. And they have the playoff experience with the young guns even prepped by capturing the Calder Cup last season with the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Detroit Red Wings have all three elements needed to shock the world.
Not to mention this is Hockeytown! The best fan base in the world.
Give any “underdog” team moral support and their confidence is going to go through the roof.
For that reason I’m taking my Red Wings in 6.
The Joe breaks out into song on April 28 and sends the Bruins back to Boston stunned.
Don’t Stop Believin’ Hockeytown! The Journey to the Cup starts now.
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