The Detroit Red Wings put the pressure on the Boston Bruins by winning game 1 in Boston, effectively taking the advantage in the series. The Bruins have responded by taking games 2 and 3, outscoring the Wings 7-1 in the process.
While these games weren’t exactly runaways, it is clear that Detroit has been pushed into a corner that will be hard to escape from. Aside from Pavel Datsyuk’s nifty winner in game 1, Detroit’s top guns have been quiet. Gustav Nyquist is nowhere near the player he was a month ago, while veterans Johan Franzen and Daniel Alfredsson haven’t been factors either. Goaltender Jimmy Howard has done his fair share in net, but hasn’t been helped by his teammates, especially in game 3. Several glaring turnovers and mental lapses led to numerous chances which could have resulted in much more than three goals for Boston.
Although the Bruins are up 2-1 in the series now, they have to work on a few things themselves. The top lines haven’t been producing on even strength and would be receiving much more criticism if not for the success of the powerplay thus far. David Krejci’s 5 on 5 Corsi rating of 32.8% puts him sixth worst in the playoffs, with Jarome Iginla one spot in front of him. Aside from Milan Lucic’s goal in game 2, the trio has been dormant, which is especially unlike Krejci, who has put up over 70 points in just over 80 career playoff games, including 26 points in 22 games in last season’s trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. Patrice Bergeron’s line hasn’t been much better, so the Bruins could be in trouble if they can’t get some even strength scoring.
Fortunately, the Bruins have been dominating special teams, ultimately giving Boston the edge in the series. The powerplay has three goals in eight chances and the penalty kill has been perfect, shutting down all nine of Detroit’s man advantages. A turning point in game three was the Wings’ failed 5 on 3 powerplay opportunity, which could have cut the Bruins’ lead to one in the second period. Ever since the loss of Dennis Seidenberg, the big question has always been the penalty kill, but the young defensemen are proving they can handle the work themselves.
The Bruins have gotten plenty of help from their replacements at opportune times. Justin Florek and Jordan Caron have both potted chippy goals to help the cause and aggravate Red Wings fans. With Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly on the mend, these two will need to continue to do the little things that help the team and can occasionally result in goals.
One play that has gathered some attention is the hit to Brad Marchand and his actions that followed. While there was some embellishment on the play for sure, the man isn’t stupid enough to grab the wrong knee after the hit. If you watch the replay, he did land a bit awkwardly on his right knee after the hit. Obviously he wasn’t injured to the extent his acting may have suggested, but the hit was dirty either way. This is a bit different than trying to get a penalty out of nothing because that same exact type of hit just cost the Colorado Avalanche Tyson Barrie earlier this week. I would not be surprised if Marchand was given a talking to by the coaching staff, but don’t expect him to stop getting under the skin of the Red Wings, which he has done a fine job of this series.
With the lack of scoring and uncharacteristic play on the Red Wings side, it appears that captain Henrik Zetterberg is pushing to return as soon as game 4. Before the series began, Zetterberg and the team were looking towards a round two return. However, it is beginning to sound more and more likely that the veteran will make a return. How effective he will be is yet to be seen, but even a rusty Zetterberg will be a positive addition to the lineup for Detroit.