Bruins, Red Wings Journey Starts Here
Tomorrow night, the much-awaited opening game of the Boston Bruins‘ 2014 Stanley Cup campaign begins at the TD Garden against the Detroit Red Wings.
The Bruins (117 pts., 53-19-9) will hope to advance to the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in the quest for second-consecutive Stanley Cup appearance. The 8th seed Red Wings (93 pts., 39-28-15) will try to upset the B’s and become an legitimate contender for Lord Stanley’s hardware.
Pavel Datsyuk will be available for Detroit in this series, and Mike Babcock’s team hasn’t had the savvy Russian center at full strength for most of the season. Henrik Zetterberg is skating but unlikely to play anytime soon.
For the Bruins, injuries may leave the starting lineups uncertain. Defensemen Adam McQuaid and Dennis Seidenberg are definitely ruled out. Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille didn’t practice today due to respective impairments.
Could absences affect how the game is played?
It is definitely possible, especially when Zetterberg, one the Red Wings best players (next to Datsyuk), isn’t on the ice. The Bruins have been playing without Seidenberg and McQuaid for awhile. They have fared pretty well, but Kelly and Paille, despite existing in the bottom lines, are skaters that can have a notable impact on the outcome of the match.
Yet, in order to make a solid prediction of this matchup, you have to put the latest contests and the season, as a whole, into perspective.
The Bruins’ were the best team in the NHL, according to standings and dominant spells of play. The Red Wings didn’t tap their full potential due to player absences, notably their two captains, Zetterberg and Datsyuk.
Nevertheless, the B’s have lost five of their last seven games, and even though they were comfortably sitting at the top of the East, these defeats are worth pondering. The ‘Wings rode out a four-game win streak in late April into early May. Detroit, facing inconsistency as the regular season closed, were able to finish strong with a 3-0 win over the St. Louis Blues.
It’s the Stanley Cup playoffs, so evenly-matched, nail-biting competitions are more likely. Still, Boston is excellent at winning games in the Garden, enjoying the best home record (31-7-3) in the league.
Prediction: 2-1 Bruins
NESN and NBC will televise the game. 98.5 The Sports Hub will call it on the radio for those in Massachusetts.