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Swayman, Bruins maul Red Wings 5-1

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Boston Bruins Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

1st Period

The way the Wings started this game was what you wanted to see them do after an ugly loss to New Jersey on Tuesday. Lalonde got the team to come out swinging and the Wings had several great opportunities early, including Erne intercepting an errant pass in the high slot and Soderblom ringing a shot off the post. Overall, through the first several minutes Detroit carried play a significantly out-chanced Boston.

Midway through the period we got to witness some really fun hockey as both teams pressured and raced up and down the ice. Both the Wings and Bruins got good chances and rolled lines. While you want to see the Wings dominate, it was genuinely good hockey to watch. We haven’t gotten to see too much of that over the past several years, especially against good squads like the Bruins.

At 6:18 remaining, after a number of failed efforts to clear, the Bruins were able to sustain pressure. Charlie Coyle came streaking into the high slot from the bench and got Soderblom and Seider all turned around. He sniped the puck past Husso without hesitation, 1-0 Bruins.

Late in the period, Larkin, Kubalik, and Seider nearly tied it with a 3-on-1, but a good save by Swayman preserved Boston’s lead. Overall, the Wings had a solid opening period against a good team. They easily could have come away with the lead if Swayman hadn’t sealed up so many loose pucks. Aside from a brief ugly stretch that resulted in the Boston goal, I’d say the Wings carried the period.

Score: 1-0 Bruins
Shots: 12-10 Bruins
Stand Ups: Soderblom, Erne, Larkin

2nd Period

Aside from a good early shift from the Bruins, Detroit controlled early play, which was great to see, but it wasn’t the most dangerous sort of control; too much individual effort and not enough efficient passing. Still, some good scoring opportunities came up.

Both teams exchanged penalties about seven minutes into the period and both penalty kills did their job soundly. Otherwise, Detroit continued to control the game. They just couldn’t buy a goal, though. Rasmussen, Larkin, and Kubalik all had good chances, mostly from pushing the pace and crashing the net.

Rasmussen would end up crashing the net a little too hard, though, putting the Bruins on the power play. At first it looked as though the Wings’ PK would get the job done, but some good cycling saw the puck land on Marchand’s stick. A hard shot would hit Husso and bounce over him into the net. 2-0 Bruins.

Late in the period the Bruins actually began to possess the puck more, putting up some good challenges against Husso, but the netminder met them. And just when you felt like Swayman was going to be unbeatable tonight, a strange broken play occurred where Erne scooped up a loose puck corralled by a fallen stick and fired a surprising shot from the high slot past Swayman to cut Boston’s lead in half. Huge confidence booster going into the third for Detroit.

Score: 2-1 Bruins
Shots: 20-20 Tie
Stand Ups: Erne, Larkin, Kubalik, transitions up ice
Sit Downs: The Penalty Kill

3rd Period

And the sort of opening to the third that Detroit had is a perfect way to piss away a promising game. Boston put in three goals in less than five minutes, two on the power play sandwiching one even-strength goal. It reminded me a lot of the break down early in the second against the Devils; Detroit broke down and played very poorly in front of the crease, failing to clear bodies and pucks and letting the puck continually get back on opponent’s sticks . This is officially a red flag for me.

The Wings had a chance to get some dignity back with a 5-on-3, but instead they drilled two two goal posts in thirty seconds and Swayman stuffed them the rest of the way.

The game finished out with more back-and-forth play that is a lot less fun to watch when your team is being embarrassed 5-1. To add insult to injury, Coyle high-sticked Larkin in the faceoff dot with less than two minutes left. It didn’t look like he meant to do it, and Coyle is no goon, but still, the Bruins had hands all over Larkin all game and then they hit the guy in the mouth. Your fan anger is definitely justified here. It would lead to a powerplay, but Larkin got tossed for roughing and then the game ended and the Bruins made it worse by playing that one track from the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie at the end, which is an unforgivable sin in my book.

Score: 5-1 Bruins
Shots: 33-29 Bruins
Stand Ups: Larkin
Sit Downs: The Penalty Kill, Team Defensive Structure

Conclusion

I would have been okay losing this one 2-1 or 3-1, I think, given how well Swayman played in between the pipes for Boston. He stood on his head several times and gobbled up tons of rebounds, while Husso had stretches where his rebound control was not particularly inspiring. But losing by this wide of a margin after the way the 1st and 2nd periods went makes me mad. Offensively, Detroit played great, though I started to question their insistence on trying to beat Boston down low after a while. But Detroit has just felt loose in front of their own net all season. We’ll see what Lalonde and crew can do to fix it for the game against Minnesota on Saturday.