WIIM Roundtable: Wings vs. Bruins
We've done a lot of analysis of the Wings/Bruins matchup so far, but outside of Graham going tongue-in-cheek, we haven't actually laid our predictions for the series yet. We're going to fix that right now with a good old-fashioned round table. Let's get to it.
1. What are the Wings going to have to do to take this series?
Joseph: Possess the puck. Despite winning the season series 3-1, Detroit lost the possession battle (by Corsi percentage) in three of four contests this season. How are you going to keep Iginla, Krejci, Bergeron, Lucic, Eriksson, et al. off the scoresheet? You can't. But keeping the puck away from them as much as possible would be quite helpful toward containing them.
Jeff: Score more goals than the Bruins and win four out of the seven games.
Graham: Get depth scoring. It seems that all year we've talked about Jimmy Howard's inconsistency or the struggles of the defense, but for me the reason the Wings started winning games down the stretch is because they got offense from unexpected sources. Here's a list of who scored goals for the Wings in the month of April: Tomas Jurco (2), Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Darren Helm (2), Daniel Alfredsson, Pavel Datsyuk (2), Luke Glendening, Niklas Kronwall, Brendan Smith, David Legwand, Jakub Kindl, Riley Sheahan (3), Justin Abdelkader (2). That's 13 different goal scorers in only 7 games. If the Bruins can't focus exclusively on Datsyuk and Franzen or the Kid Line, then that gives Mike Babcock an opportunity to play the match up game that he loves so much.
Christian: Outside of having a whole lot of luck on their side, the Wings will need to score as much as possible. Our defense is not good enough to stop Boston's offense, which means that all we need to do to win the series is score more goals than them. Easy enough, right?
Kyle: Pedal to the metal. Obviously Boston's size and physicality cannot be matched by Detroit.. The only way for the youth to thrive is to play fast, and play smart. They may be big, but they aren't fast.
J.J.: Get the puck from the corner of their own end to the slot in their end quickly and consistently. They'll also need to funnel Boston puck carriers to the boards as close to both blue lines as possible. Everything else falls into place if you do those things.
Tyler: Everything is going to have to go right, essentially. I feel more optimistic than I should for a 1-v-8 matchup, but still, I realize that a lot of luck will have to be on Detroit's side to get out of this round. The biggest thing obviously is that Jimmy Howard outplays Tuukka Rask, because the rest of the matchups aren't going to overcome an off series from Jimmy.
Michelle: Not rely on two or three players for all their scoring. Boston had a very deep team that gets scoring up and down the lines and from the defense. If, for example, the Wings try to rely on Datsyuk, Nyquist, and Tatar for most of their goals, we'll get crushed. Once teams started catching on to Nyquist being a scoring machine, they started focusing on him more and limiting his chances. I'm not only talking the forwards either, the Wings will need their defensemen to continue their increased offensive contributions and increase them if possible. In summary: We need depth scoring like Ian White needed Nicklas Lidstrom.
2. What are the Wings going to have to avoid doing to keep from losing this series?
Joseph: Getting hemmed in their own zone. You have a chance to get that puck across your defensive blue line and out of your own zone, you take it. Turning the puck over in your own zone and giving Boston second and third chances at your net will be a recipe for disaster.
Jeff: Avoid doing stupid shit that gets the Bruins jacked up and emotionally charged.
Graham: Stay out of the box. The Wings' PK was a respectable 12th in the NHL this season, but Boston comes into this series with the NHL's 3rd-best PP and a 3-16 (19%) performance against the Wings in 4 games. Special teams can be the difference in a short series, and the Wings would be best served to keep the games 5-on-5 and roll with 4 lines.
Christian: The case of Helm hands that has been going around recently has to be eradicated. Also, playing poorly on defense should be avoided
Kyle: Stupid mistakes. If they fall back into their zone and hinder their exit/entry opportunities, they will be toast.
J.J.: They can't get into run-and-gun shootouts with these guys.
Tyler: Be as disciplined as possible. Boston possesses a dangerous combination of loving to get fired up, and being really good on the power play. I can foresee people wanting to physically assault Brendan Smith after this series.
Michelle: Taking penalties. Boston has the 3rd best power play in the league, and even if they don't score on them against us, it sill wears our PK'ers out. In a 7 game series played every other day, the cost of taking penalties (even if we kill them off) can add up quickly.
3. Who's going to be the series MVP?
Joseph: Jimmy Howard will be the reason this series goes as long as it does.
Jeff: Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Graham: I don't think the Wings have a chance to win this series unless Jimmy Howard displays the level of goaltending he did in last year's playoffs. If they can get regular Jimmy instead of 2014 Jimmy, they'll be in every game and could pull the upset.
Christian: Gustav Nyquist (who else could it possibly be?)
Kyle: Pavel Datsyuk.
J.J.: Tomas Tatar is steeze as fuck and going to drain. I don't know what that means, but I read it in the comments somewhere and it sounds really good.
Tyler: Tuukka Rask will ultimately frustrate the Wings to death and prove to be the biggest figurative obstacle -- the biggest literal one being Chara. Wow is that guy tall!
Michelle: Sidney Crosby? Oh wait, this isn't NBC. That probably depends on which team wins, but I predict it will be either Howard or Rask. With how competitive this series is going to be, the goalies.
4. What's your prediction?
Joseph: Bruins in 7.
Jeff: Red Wings in 6.
Graham: My heart wants to predict the Wings win this series, but my head disagrees. So I went to my liver as a tiebreaker, and it said "Wings in 7, now get me more booze", so there you go.
Christian: The Red Wings beat Boston in 6 games.
Kyle: Wings in 7.
J.J.: I'm a homer, sue my dick off. Wings in 6.
Tyler: Bruins in 7. Obviously a B's victory in 6 or even 5 wouldn't be surprising, but the Wings managed to get the better bounces against Boston during the regular season and that was before Detroit started rounding into shape. Hopefully that will be in Boston's head a little bit, but I doubt it.
Michelle: A great series with great hockey. I think this series is going to 7 games, and while on paper it looks like the Bruins have a decided victory, but I know what the Wings can accomplish so I say Wings pull off the upset in 7 games.