There are two stories we’re seeing a lot of coming out of the Red Wings’ elimination by the Boston Bruins in the Atlantic Division Semifinals, four games to one.
One is the idea of the Bruins as an unstoppable force. Four rolling lines, a deep defense and a Vezina-calibre goalie. They were destined to win.
The other is that Detroit was young and inexperienced, riddled with injuries. That youth just couldn’t stand up to the pressures of an NHL postseason.
The truth isn’t one or the other, or even in between. It’s the combination of the two.
As I’ve said before (repeatedly), we saw in Game One that the Red Wings playing a perfect game could beat the Bruins. For the rest of the series, we saw that it would take a perfect game to do so. Boston was simply that good. And Detroit couldn’t be perfect three more times.
Inexperienced centers like Riley Sheahan and Luke Glendening couldn’t be counted on to win faceoffs that needed to be won. Defensive coverage was missed by blueliners and forwards alike.
The Red Wings’ youth, pressed into service due to injuries, gave the Bruins opportunities. And the Bruins were too good to let those opportunities to go waste.
Does a healthy Detroit team lose to Boston in the first round? A healthy Detroit team doesn’t play Boston in the first round. There’s no point worrying about that.
Do we need to worry about Gustav Nyquist (and Tomas Tatar, and Sheahan, and Tomas Jurco) going without a point in five games? No. Pavel Datsyuk went without a point in the 2003 postseason. Datsyuk didn’t score a goal for three consecutive playoff runs. This was a learning experience for the kids. A painful one, but they now know what it takes to play a team like the Bruins in the playoffs.
I forget who it was, but I saw someone Tweet something like “The kids learned how to win last year in Grand Rapids. They learned how to lose this year in Detroit.” That lesson is not one to take lightly. Twenty years ago Chris Osgood learned that lesson and held onto it for his entire career.
Where do the Red Wings go from here? That’s a whole other post, likely to come shortly. Immediately, though, they’ll clean out their lockers and we’ll probably hear a bit more about just how bad the injuries were. That could explain a lot but in the end it won’t matter; Detroit is out, Boston moves on.