Morning Skate: Bruins at Red Wings Preview

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Game 26

7:30p ET, Joe Louis Arena

Detroit, MI

TV: Fox Sports Detroit, NBCSN, NESN (<--- I work there)

Radio: 97.1 The Ticket

Bruins Blog: Stanley Cup of Chowder

I wish I was looking forward to this game more. If the Red Wings were healthy this would be such a great measuring stick game. Sure, these two teams played twice already, but it was in the first two weeks of the season. When they last met both teams were still trying to figure themselves out. The Bruins... I'd say they've found themselves. The Wings? Well, injuries have derailed that process a bit and they are sure as hell still a work in progress.

I'm not going to sugar coat it for everyone. The Wings will be lucky to get a charity point tonight. Boston is playing well right now. They're 4-0-1 in their last 5 games and have won 8 of their last 10. They're leading the East and they're not even getting a lot offensively from guys like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand (who has been realllllly bad this season). The Bruins defense is as suffocating as usual. Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid have missed the last few games with injuries. They both made the trip to Detroit and could play tonight (I expect them to). Oh, Tuukka Rask is pretty good too.

The Wings, of course, will be without Pavel Datsyuk. There's no need to explain why that's a big loss. Todd Bertuzzi will also be out tonight. Mike Babcock will miss having Bert on the ice to match up against some of the Bruins size. If anything, I would hope the Wings can rely on guys like Stephen Weiss (*gulp*) and Daniel Alfredsson in this game. Those two have played countless games against the Bruins.

The biggest concern I have about tonight is the bottom six. Specifically whichever line draws the matchup against the B's 3rd line. Right now, Carl Soderberg and Reilly Smith (Yes, he's Brendan's little brother) are playing pretty well. They've put up a combined 5 goals and 6 assists in their last 4 games. Not too bad for two of your bottom six. This could be where the game is won tonight.

Ultimately, I'm not expecting a win. I hope to be pleasantly surprised. If this current rendition of the Red Wings can hang with Boston tonight, then maybe behind those dark, stormy clouds currently hovering above the team there lies a little bit of sunshine, hell, maybe even a double rainbow.

The Expected Lineup

Forwards

Johan Franzen Henrik Zetterberg Gustav Nyquist
Justin Abdelkader Darren Helm Daniel Alfredsson
Drew Miller Joakim Andersson Tomas Tatar
Daniel Cleary Stephen Weiss Mikael Samuelsson

Defensemen

Niklas Kronwall Jonathan Ericsson
Kyle Quincey Brendan Smith
Brian Lashoff Jakub Kindl

Goaltenders

Jonas Gustavsson (starting)
Jimmy Howard

Scratches: None

Injuries: Pavel Datsyuk (concussion?), Todd Bertuzzi (upper body)

LTIR: Danny DeKeyser (shoulder)

BRUINS THE MATCH-UP RED WINGS
16-6-2 (34 pts; 1st in Atlantic) Record 11-7-7 (29 pts; 4th in Atlantic)
2.79 (10th in NHL) Goals Per Game 2.52 (21st in NHL)
1.83 (1st) Goals Against Per Game 2.64 (16th)
19.4% (14th) Power Play % 22.0% (6th)
85.9% (4th) Penalty Kill % 85.9% (6th)
Milan Lucic (9 goals) Goal Leader Pavel Datsyuk (12 goals)
2 tied with 18 points Points Leader Henrik Zetterberg (28 points)

Opponent Outlook

Player to Fear: If Lucic is physical tonight AND he's on his game offensively, well, he's the easy answer. I'll also throw in Bergeron here because he, Marchand and Loui Eriksson will matchup against the Zetterberg line. Bergeron can shut people down. That's worrisome if the Wings don't get any secondary scoring.

X-Factor: I'll go with Torey Krug like I did way back in the second game of the season. The former Spartan is second on the Bruins in goals with 7 and he just seems to have that knack for being in the right place at the right time in the offensive zone. He is, right now, exactly what we wish Smith was at the moment.

Familiar Faces: None.

Thumbs up (One Thing to Like About Boston): The team employs me.

Thumbs down (One Thing to Dislike About Boston): The cost of living here is outrageous.

Forwards

Milan Lucic David Krejci Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron Loui Eriksson
Carl Soderberg Chris Kellu Reilly Smith
Daniel Paille Gregory Campbell Shawn Thornton

Defensemen

Zdeno Chara Dougie Hamilton
Dennis Seidenberg Johnny Boychuk
Torey Krug Adam McQuaid

Goaltenders

Tuukka Rask (starting)
Chad Johnson

Scratches: Matt Bartkowski, Kevan Miller & Jordan Caron

Bullets of Knowledge

  • The Red Wings are 250-235-95-1 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Bruins.

  • Last 10 games: Boston 8-1-1. Detroit 2-3-5.

  • The Wings are currently 2-1-0 on Wednesdays.

  • Gustavsson is 3-4-1 with a 3.35 GAA, .890 SV% and 1 shutout in 10 games against the B's.

Prediction: Red Wings lose 3-2 in overtime. Alfredsson is your player of the game.

Let's Go Red Wings.
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