YES! JIMMY! JIMMY! JIMMY! The Red Wings picked up a massive two points with a 3-0 shutout over the Flyers last night and a win tonight in Boston will clinch a playoff berth for the 25th straight season. The Red Wings were in trouble for a few weeks, but they finally find themselves in the driver’s seat and the playoffs are in reach.
Detroit sits third in the Atlantic and have two more points than the Bruins and Flyers, but Philadelphia still holds a game in-hand. If it comes down to it (hopefully it doesn’t), the Red Wings currently hold the tie-breaker over both Boston and Philadelphia. They are also just two points behind the Lightning for second in the Atlantic and Tampa Bay is playing without Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman and Ryan Callahan.
Tonight will be the fourth an final meeting between the Red Wings and Bruins and Detroit will be looking to tie the season series and lock up a playoff spot. The Red Wings are 1-1-1 against Boston while averaging 3.00 goals for and 3.67 goals against. The Bruins are an NHL worst 2-7-1 in their last 10 games. Let’s break this massive matchup down!
THE RED WINGS
The Red Wings are not expected to have a morning skate because of the back-to-back and the travel, but don’t expect to see any lineup changes after a shutout win. All three players that I highlighted in yesterday’s pre-game, Pavel Datsyuk, Mike Green and Riley Sheahan, were held off of the scoresheet yesterday. The only lineup change they made yesterday was bringing Tomas Jurco in for Anthony Mantha, but Jurco played just 5:14, so it didn’t have a great affect on the outcome. Everyone’s favourite Greek hockey play Andreas Athanasiou scored a beauty shorthanded goal, but also played under six minutes. Expect to see similar usage tonight.
In the season series Datsyuk has led all Red Wings forwards with three goals and one assist (four points) against the Bruins. He is followed closely by Darren Helm (2G / 1A), Justin Abdelkader (1G / 2A) and surprisingly Alexey Marchenko (0G / 3A).
It looks like the Bruins are going to be without Brett Connolly and Jimmy Hayes up front and Dennis Seidenberg on the blueline. Connolly has missed the last three games but returned to practice yesterday but Hayes and Seidenberg did not. The Bruins are apparently expecting 2009 Stanley Cup Finals Max Talbot to show up. If you don’t remember (how could you not?) Talbot scored both of the Penguins goals in a 2-1 Game 7 win over Detroit in the 2009 finals. How though? I still can’t believe it happened.
The recall was hilarious in my opinion, but he is not the guy we need to look out for. The Bruins have had 11 different goal scorers in the first three games vs. Detroit, but David Krejci leads the way with four points (1G / 3A) with Loui Eriksson and Brad Marchand picking up three points (1G / 2A each).
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Jeff Blashill did not announce his starter for tonight. Jimmy Howard stood on his head last night, stopping all 30 shots that he faced. Howie has played great recently. He has won his last three starts and is 4-1-0 with a 1.68 GAA and .937 SV% in his last five outings. He should be fresh enough to start on the back-to-back if Blashill calls upon him. He has started 50 games in each of the last two seasons, but has only started 31 this year. Going to goalies two nights in a row is risky, but he did it last week and won both.
Petr Mrazek went 3-5-0 with a brutal 3.72 GAA and .884 SV% in March and has been yanked in three of his last four starts. His confidence appears to be shot, but maybe giving him the nod in an important game will give him a boost. He has started the first three games vs. the Bruins, going 1-1-1 with a 3.64 GAA and .853 SV%, which complicates things further.
For the Bruins it will definitely be Tuukka Rask. Tonight will be his eighth start in a row and the previous seven haven’t gone well. He is 2-4-1 with a 3.14 GAA and .890 SV% in those pivotal games. It’s been weird for the Bruins lately. When they score they don’t play defence and when they play defence they don’t score. In that rough 2-7-1 stretch I mentioned earlier, they’ve averaged just 2.10 goals per game in front of Rask.
IN THE LAST MEETING…
That game was like pond hockey. No defence at all. Hopefully the offence is clicking like that tonight with a little better D. What do you think?
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m ET at the TD Garden in Boston. You can watch it on Fox Sports Detroit or the NBC Sports Network and if you aren’t near a television, you can catch it on the Radio with WXYT-FM 97.1 The Ticket.
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