Pregame: Bruins @ Red Wings – Game 3 – 4/22

The big news as the Red Wings’ first-round series with the Boston Bruins shifts to Detroit is that the Wings will be without forward Daniel Alfredsson, whose back issues have flared up again. Joakim Andersson takes his spot in the lineup, making his first appearance of the postseason.

Coming off a 4-1 loss in Game Two, the pressure is on the Red Wings now. They won Game One to “steal” home ice from the Bruins but if they lose either of the next two, they’ll just have given it right back.

I half-expect a split of the next two games, which gives us a three-game series with Boston having home ice. I think a longer series benefits Detroit, though, so that may not be a bad thing.

As I said in the postgame on Sunday, it’s going to come down to which team plays their game more. Detroit controlled Game One (and it was still painfully close) while Boston ran Game Two. My concern for Detroit is that Boston can win a Detroit-style game but the Wings can’t win a Bruins-style one.

Stupid stat of the day: The Red Wings are 4-4 all-time in Game Threes played on a Tuesday where the series is tied.

Game time is 7:30 PM on FSD and NBCSN.

Postgame: Red Wings @ Bruins – Game 2 – 4/20

I thought I had said it in the pregame post but I went into this game expecting a Detroit loss. It would have been absolutely shocking (in a good way) to see the Bruins drop the opening pair of games at home. And if you’d told me on Friday afternoon that it would be 1-1 going to Detroit, I’d have taken it.

If Friday’s win showed how the Red Wings could win this series, today’s loss showed why so many people said Boston would win it. Detroit couldn’t get anything going offensively, their lack of depth on D bit them in the ass (Brian Lashoff), and they spent too much time trying to play Boston’s game (Brendan Smith kind of trying to fight Zdeno Chara, who didn’t look like he really wanted to fight either).

Boston was physical and controlled play and this time Jimmy Howard couldn’t bail his team out. In fact, the Bruins’ first goal falls largely on his awful pass attempt.

There were calls (and non-calls) I really didn’t like but I don’t think that’s what cost Detroit the game. I think the refs letting more things slide benefits the more physical team but I don’t think Detroit played well enough for that to really be the difference. I will say I really hated the roughing call on Kyle Quincey since David Krejci had his glove in Quincey’s face as much as Quincey had his in Krejci’s. That directly led to Boston’s fourth goal, but I already called out Lashoff on that one.

Detroit has plenty of time to turn it around. No one expected them to sweep and I actually think a longer series benefits them as they should get Henrik Zetterberg back.

Pregame: Red Wings @ Boston – Game 2 – 4/20

After a 1-0 win in Game One on Friday, the Red Wings can take a stranglehold on their Atlantic Division Semifinal series with the Boston Bruins today, as a win would send them back to Detroit holding a 2-0 series lead.

Boston will have the services of Milan Lucic, who was not suspended by the NHL for his spear between the legs of Danny DeKeyser in the first period of Game One.

Stupid stat of the day: The Red Wings are 7-5-1 all-time in the playoffs on Easter Sunday. That drops to 2-5-0 when the game is on the road, so all five of Detroit’s Easter playoff losses were road games.

Game time is 3:00 PM on NBC.

Datsyuk Leads Red Wings to Game One Win

Pavel Datsyuk scored the game’s only goal in the closing minutes of the third period on Friday night and Jimmy Howard made 25 saves as the Detroit Red Wings earned a 1-0 win over the Boston Bruins in the opening game of their Atlantic Division Semifinal matchup.

Datsyuk’s highlight-reel goal with 3:01 remaining in regulation broke a scoreless tie. At the Detroit blue line, Datsyuk reached behind himself with one hand on his stick to collect a pass from Johan Franzen, knocking it up between his own legs as he broke through the neutral zone. Gaining the Boston end, he cut to his left, using the Bruins defenders for a screen before snapping a heavy shot past Tuukka Rask.

The Bruins would pull Rask for an extra attacker in the final minute but could not pull even.

The shutout was the third of Howard’s playoff career and came in his first-ever Game One road win.

Rask made 23 saves on 24 shots in taking the loss.

Neither team scored a power play goal on the night. Detroit had two chances with the man-advantage to the Bruins’ one.

The teams will meet on Sunday afternoon in Boston for Game Two of the series.

Boston forward Milan Lucic speared Detroit defenseman Danny DeKeyser between the legs at the end of the first period. He was not penalized for the play.

On Playoff Format Quibbles

I should know better than to argue with a Ryan Lambert piece on Puck Daddy, but I have a bone to pick with his declaration of the NHL’s new playoff format as a failure two days into the playoffs.

Lambert spends a lot of time talking about how injuries are unavoidable but still ruin the playoffs, and then closes with the following:

But it could very easily have avoided this awful postseason system, which remains impossible to succinctly explain, by the way, and ensured that the Stanley Cup Playoffs were as good as they possibly could be.

The basic argument is that the divisional format and lack of reseeding means the “good” matchups happen early, with the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks meeting in a Pacific Division Semifinal that’s more deserving of a Western Conference Final.

Now, that ignores what the seeding actually would have been in the old format, as out East at least we still would have seen a Boston – Detroit and Pittsburgh – Columbus series.

But here’s the thing: Lambert implies that the previous playoff format was ideal when it wasn’t, either.

Win a weak division (as people always claimed the Red Wings did, beating up on the Central Division)? Automatically get at least the third seed, bumping a better team down. Ninth place in a strong Western Conference might have made the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference.

The only “fair” playoff format is single-table. All sixteen teams, regardless of conference, regardless of division championship.

Of course, then you still have the issue of beating up on weak divisions inflating a team’s record when compared to the rest of the league, so you have to eliminate the ability to do that, which means a completely balanced schedule. Which is never going to happen.

But, yeah, let’s go back to the old format, that’ll fix everything.

The Ends Justify The Means

It went unpunished last night and I really don’t expect supplemental discipline today, but Milan Lucic‘s spear between the legs of Danny DeKeyser is still generating buzz.

Over at Habs Eyes on the Prize, Andrew Berkshire already dove in to the Boston media’s reaction but I want to focus on one particular quote.

Though many will bemoan Milan Lucic’s grape-busting stick work on Detroit’s Danny DeKeyser in the second period of Game 1, the simple fact is that in the Stanley Cup Playoffs the ends do justify the means.

That’s Jerard Fagerberger of the Boston Globe in his piece In Defense of Lucic’s Cheap Shot – Welcome to Playoff Hockey.

Let that quote sit in for a bit. Think about what it really means for the ends to justify the means. Think about how far that can be taken.

Danny DeKeyser shutting you down means you spear him in his manhood? What do you do to the player who scores a goal on you, elbow him in the head? Take a skate blade to the glove hand of the goalie who blanked you?

It’s an asinine justification because where do you draw the line?

We have a rulebook for a reason. Everyone lives inside it and everyone stays safe. You know what we call the kind of person who thinks the rules don’t apply to them, who skirts the law when it suits them? A sociopath.

Postgame: Red Wings @ Bruins – Game One – 4/18

So I’m still having trouble putting thoughts together about the Red Wings’ Game One win in Boston but I’ll give it a shot…

The cliche thing to say is that it’s only one game but it’s true. For all we know, Detroit’s 1-0 win awakens a sleeping beast and the Bruins win the next four straight.

That said, the fourth-seeded Wings showed that they can go into Boston and beat the top team in the league tonight. They showed that the Bruins can be shut down. They showed that they won’t be intimidated.

And of course they showed that Pavel Datsyuk is amazing. Screw the shot, it was through a screen and those find their way through all the time. Picking up the errant pass from Franzen, one-handed behind his back and passing it between his own legs to himself and then taking off… Dude finds new ways to make your jaw drop all the time.

So a 1-0 win, and a 1-0 series. I don’t have high expectations for Sunday but it doesn’t matter, one out of two in Boston was required and they got it tonight.

Pregame: Red Wings @ Bruins – Game 1 – 4/18

Every other series has already kicked off and today it’s finally time for the Red Wings to begin their first round matchup with the Bruins.

When I did my first round predictions I deliberately left off this series and I’m not going to change that here.

Jimmy Howard can steal this series. Tuukka Rask can shut the Red Wings down. The Wings have solved the Bruins more often than the Bruins have solved them this season. Boston was the league’s best team in the regular season, though, so there’s no reason to think they can’t turn it around.

Time to get these games going and see how things go.

Game time is 7:30 PM on FSD and NBCSN.

As Tweeted earlier this week, Detroit is 80-56 all-time in Friday playoff games. That drops to 15-11 when it’s Game One of a series and all the way down to 3-8 when it’s a road game.

Playoff Predictions: 2014 Division Semifinals

It’s playoff time and that means predictions. Since there’s still a few hours until the first games, I’m going to do the simplest predictions possible. No explanation, just picks. The Boston – Detroit series will be skipped because I don’t predict Red Wings games.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens
Lightning in 6

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Penguins in 7

New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Rangers in 4

Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild
Avalanche in 5

St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Blackhawks in 5

Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas Stars
Ducks in 4

San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings
Kings in 7

Red Wings to Open Playoffs at Boston on Friday

The National Hockey League announced the schedule for the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Sunday.

The Detroit Red Wings will open their Atlantic Division Semifinal matchup with the Boston Bruins on Friday, April 18, in Boston. From there on the teams will meet every-other day, with a possible Game Seven on April 30.

The full series schedule is as follows:

Date Opponent Location Time/TV
April 18, 2014 Boston Bruins Away 7:30 PM; FSD
April 20, 2014 Boston Bruins Away 3:00 PM; NBC
April 22, 2014 Boston Bruins Home 7:30 PM; FSD
April 24, 2014 Boston Bruins Home 8:00 PM; FSD
April 26, 2014 Boston Bruins Away 3:00 PM; NBC
April 28, 2014 Boston Bruins Home TBD; FSD
April 30, 2014 Boston Bruins Away TBD; FSD

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