The Detroit Red Wings opened the 2014-15 season Thursday night at Joe Louis, and the hometown faithful had a party to welcome back hockey's regular season. The Red Wings welcomed the Boston Bruins for their second game of the season in as many nights. Gustav Nyquist's second period power play goal stood up as the game winner, and Jimmy Howard made the result stand up.
A choppy, icing-filled start (sweet) saw Detroit carry the majority of possession, but Boston would break the goose egg first on their first shot of the game. Jonathan Ericsson was guilty of an incredibly ill-advised pass attempt, and the resulting turnover dropped Jimmy Howard's save percentage to .000. Guess it's time to trade the bum.
Coincidental penalties and a careless Tomas Tatar trip put Boston on a 4-on-3 power play early in the second. Boston came close when a Zdeno Chara slapshot broke some of Howard's equipment and squirted through just to hit the post. After some nervous moments, the Red Wings killed off the penalty. They got the puck into the Bruins' zone, and Danny DeKeyser let loose a slapper that deflected off the stick of Justin Abdelkader for the first goal of the season!
The power play started off as hot garbage, but it finally got something going. Henrik Zetterberg used his beard to distract some Bruins along the boards and forced a turnover at the blue line. He fed Johan Franzen who fired a shot that got blocked straight to Darren Helm and Helm fed Nyquist for the tap-in to the empty net. First lead of the season as the teams went into the second intermission. Boston surged as time wound down, but Howard stood tall and the Red Wings prevailed.
- The eye test tells me Detroit had a large wad of zone time over Boston. Detroit had great success getting the puck out of the zone (save the Ericsson turnover), but on top of that, they also kept Boston from gaining the zone very often.
- As mentioned above, the power play started off as utter hot garbage. It's difficult to say much bad about it because the later power play that got the game-winning goal improved greatly over the first period in many respects. Hopefully it was first-game rust getting polished.
- On the flip side of special teams, the penalty kill did an outstanding job tonight of outright denying the Bruins the zone. They pressured the puck at appropriate times, and aside from a 4-on-3 kill which is already difficult enough to manage, Boston got nothing from its special teams.
- Jimmy Howard didn't face many shots, but he certainly gave me a lot of confidence. After Bergeron scored on a beautiful shot off the turnover, Howard made the adjustment and flashed the leather on a later chance very similar to Bergeron's by Brad Marchand. He shut down the Bruins, saving their last gasp attempts to tie the game to at least force overtime.
- Brad Marchand got an embellishment penalty hahahaha.
- The Whipping Boys, part 1: Jakub Kindl looked tentative with the puck, and it cost him a penalty and an icing call against. He started well enough, being not terribly noticeable in the first, but he made himself noticeable for the wrong reasons.
- The Whipping Boys, part 2: How about the game Kyle Quincey had? Not very noticeable, which is good for him, but also managing the puck well especially in tight spaces. Also a nice sign? No minor penalties from him.
- Is Jonathan Ericsson trying to add some offense to his game? He committed the awful turnover that led to the first goal against, but he carried the puck to the net before feeding a pass that didn't hit anyone in front. He also stepped up very nicely in the neutral zone on a number of occasions to disrupt the Bruins' breakouts.
- Or maybe they're trying to get more of the defense involved because Mick mentioned a few times on the broadcast that forwards were covering for otherwise pinching defensemen. Either way, the defense as a whole looked faster and moved the puck more quickly out of the zone the few times Boston got extended time at even strength.
- Finally, Andrej Nestrasil looked like he belonged on the NHL roster. Whether that means he'll stay once Datsyuk returns is another consideration, but he got in on the forecheck and had a couple useful zone exits. Now he just needs to learn where the end boards are so he doesn't keep crashing into them.
There's no real way to measure how much of this game was influenced by fatigue because Boston was playing its second game of a back-to-back only two days into the season. If it really affected Boston that much, it's nice to see Detroit take advantage of it and get an important regulation win against a division opponent. The way this team played tonight, this version of the Red Wings is a team that can make some serious noise.
Time to enjoy the win. Anaheim on Saturday.