The Boston Bruins (6-6-1) head to Motown Tuesday night to match-up with another member of the NHL’s Original Six, the Detroit Red Wings (5-4-3), in a game that will feature two of last year’s top teams who this year, are faltering out of the gates.
This will be the 576th meeting of the two teams in their storied history. While Detroit has won the majority of the games (245 wins to Boston’s 234, with 96 ties), Boston has outscored the Wings, 1,738 to 1,720 head-to-head. You know, because that all matters.
Detroit is returning from a five-game road trip, a trip that saw them continue to flounder around .500. They fell behind early in their last game Saturday in Calgary, but came back with three unanswered goals to end their trip with a 3-1 victory over the Flames, rounding out their voyage with a 2-1-2 record.
Meanwhile, Boston is coming off a split of back-to-back weekend shutouts, winning at home over Edmonton 2-0, then falling to the Rangers at MSG Sunday, 1-0. In an effort to jump-start the team’s lagging offense, coach Claude Julien will experiment with new forward lines in the game, featuring the reunion of winger Marco Sturm with center Patrice Bergeron, who is arguably the only Bruins forward playing up to expectations thus far. That pairing will also include Mark Recchi, who is still one assist shy of his 900th career helper, which leads all active players. The Krejci line will be flanked by Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder.
Here now, a few more notes to nibble on heading into Tuesday’s skate…
- In their only meeting last season, Boston beat Detroit at the TD Garden 4-1 in November.
- Like the Bruins, Detroit has been bitten hard by the injury bug early and often this season. Detroit will be without both Johan Franzen (torn ACL) and Valtteri Filppula (broke his wrist Thu vs. EDM) with long-term ailments. On top of that, it is unlikely that defensemen Jonathan Ericsson and Brian Rafalski will be in the lineup, as both are battling flu-like symptoms. For Boston, forwards Marc Savard and Milan Lucic remain sidelined with foot and finger injuries, respectively. Also, Byron Bitz is likely out of the lineup with a groin injury.
- Judging by Tuesday morning’s pre-game skates, the goaltending matchup will feature two struggling veteran netminders with Vezina trophies on their resumes. For Boston, Tim Thomas will man the crease while Chris Osgood (4-2-2, 3.10GAA) will start for Detroit.
- Detroit surely does not lack for scoring punch, up and down their lineup. Leading the team thus far is veteran Henrik Zetterberg (2-9-11), followed by Pavel Datsyuk (2-8-10, including 8 points in his last 5 games) and Tomas Holmstrom (7-2-9). Holmstrom will look to buck a bad trend he has in his 14 career games against Boston. The Bruins are the only team in the NHL that he has not scored a goal against.
- In a classic “something’s gotta give” match-up, Boston’s power play unit, a unit that has struggled mightily as of late going 2 for its last 36 on the man-advantage, is currently ranked 29th in the NHL at a woeful 12.2%. They will face the league’s 28th ranked penalty killing unit tonight, as Detroit’s 72.7% has them near the bottom of the barrel in the league. On a positive note for the Wings, if they are nothing else they are quite disciplined, as Detroit’s 9.3 penalty minutes per game ranks them as the least penalized team in the league.
- Lastly for some local flair, Detroit’s roster does feature a trio of players with ties to the area. Defenseman Brad Stuart spent a brief time wearing the “spoked B,” when he came over from San Jose with Wayne Primeau and Marco Sturm in the monumental Joe Thornton trade. Another ex-Bruin, technically, is Wings’ winger Patrick Eaves. Eaves, a Boston College standout who was once a Hobey Baker finalist, was acquired over the summer in exchange for Aaron Ward. As a means to free up salary cap space, Eaves was almost immediately bought out of his remaining contract terms. Days later, he signed on with Detroit. Lastly, defenseman Doug Janik was just called up from Detroit’s AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids, MI. Janik, a University of Maine graduate, was born out in Agawam, MA. He was actually involved in a trade back in February of this year that sent him from Dallas to Montreal in exchange for current Bruins center Steve Begin.
Tags: Blake Wheeler, Boston Bruins, Brad Stuart, Brian Rafalski, Byron Bitz, Chris Osgood, Claude Julien, Detroit Red Wings, Doug Janik, Henrik Zetterberg, Ice Breakers, Johan Franzen, Jonathan Ericsson, Marco Sturm, Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder, Patrice Bergeron, Patrick Eaves, Pavel Datsyuk, Tim Thomas, Tomas Holmstrom, Valtteri Filppula