The Boston Bruins are ready and waiting in the Joe to take on the Wings tonight at 7:30 (EST).
The Bruins are coming off of their 2nd straight win after downing the Penguins in OT and the Hurricanes on Monday and Saturday respectively. The Bruins (in their last ten) are 8-1-1 and have been doing much better in their recent games than they have been in the start of this regular season. The Bruins sit a top the Atlantic Division up 3 points on the Tampa Bay Lightning and 5 points up on the Detriot Red Wings.
The Wings in their last 10 are 2-3-5 and have not been looking good. They are currently without magic man Pavel Datsyuk, mean machine Todd Bertuzzi, and their own rookie defender sensation Danny DeKeyser. The Wings only two wins in their last 10 games came from a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes and a 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres. The Wings have not been doing well in their new alignment but are certainly not the worst in the division.
Even though Datsyuk is out, that doesn’t mean the Bruins can play lackadaisical. They still have to worry about Henrik Zetterberg (who is leading his team with 28 points in 25 games) and Daniel Alfreddson who has 16 points in 25 games. The Wings are a strong force upfront and that is no secret. Zetterberg has his own bag of tricks he can use to weave around defenders so the Bruins have to be tight defensively if they want to power through the Wings.
The Bruins have been showing steady improvement through the last few games, although dropping 3rd period leads is once again becoming a theme for the team. In both the Hurricanes and Penguins match ups the Bruins have dropped leads in the third period and have been all around sloppy in the offensive zone. The third line and the Krejci line are starting to click here and there but there is far too much inconsistency up front right now and with a team that has, while not an elite top 6, certainly a talented top line up.
The powerplay (luckily) is one of the many areas the Bruins are beginning to improve in. The Bruins are 16th in the league with a 19.4 % powerplay success rate but with Riley Smith and Torey Krug really beginning to click in their play this season it’s helping out on the man advantage immensely. Although it must be said, the overload triangle method is really not working for both lines. The 1st powerplay unit would seem to benefit far more than from a tight point / close-in umbrella and moved down the offensive zone and closed in on the goalie while the 2nd unit is far more comfortable with the overload system. Carl Soderberg and Riley Smith have already begun a 1-2 punch duo on the powerplay but if the 1st unit could start to gel more (especially with Chara in front of the net) it will help out the Bruins are getting out to strong leads.
As for keeping those leads, we all know that the Red Wings are tricky up front and always have been. The Bruins need to shut down the Wings in a trap and if they get into the zone keep them to the boards, board play them, and get the puck out and start a break out. This is one of the games where a dump and chase system would work and if the bigger forwards take away the middle of the ice effectively than there should be no problem with holding down the Wings offence.
Puck drops at 7:30 at the Joe! Let’s Go B’s!!
(All team stats provided by NHL.com and HockeyDB. Injury reports provided by CBSSports)