The Boston Bruins will battle the Detroit Red Wings in the opening round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. For the second year in a row the Bruins will host an Original Six foe in the quarterfinals. It will be the first playoff meeting between these teams since 1957.
Boston finished the regular season with 117 points, which was good for the number one overall spot in the NHL. Detroit snuck into the dance via the second wild card spot despite a slew of injuries. But because poor team health jeopardized a higher seeding, the Wings will be forced to overcome the NHL’s top dog.
Detroit beat Boston in three out of four regular season meetings this year. The Bruins lone victory came on Oct. 5 at TD Garden.
The Bruins are the overwhelming favorite in the East to advance to the Cup. They have depth at all positions and top-notch goaltending.
One would surmise Detroit’s chances of winning are slim to none based on the dominance Boston showed in making minced meat of their fellow conferene foes during the regular season. Although Toronto proved that anything was possible last Spring in forcing a seventh game with the Bruins.
Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask are arguably the best players at their positions in the NHL. They are the heart and soul of the Bruins and are their most important contributors. The trio’s ability to defend Detroit will go a long way in determining the outcome of this series.
The Wings will trot out a bevy of young players who will be making their playoff debuts. Pavel Datsyuk has returned from injury and is arguably Detroit’s most important player. Henrik Zetterberg could return if the series was to extend deep.
Claude Julien can roll four lines that can produce at a consistent rate. Five of his players potted 20+ goals this season. Boston’s physically taxing play will surely test Mike Babcock’s club. It remains to be seen whether they have enough grit to hold up against a Bruins team that plays a relentless style.
Rask is a Vezina Trophy front runner and has been the backbone of Boston’s success all season. Jimmy Howard will counter in net for Detroit. He did take a step back this season, but he possesses all the tools to be great.
Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Johan Franzen and Daniel Alfredsson will all need to be on top of things offensively. Detroit will get a heavy dose of Chara, Kevan Miller and Johnny Boychuk, three of Boston’s nastier defenseman.
At the end of the day, Boston’s experience and drive to win outmatches that of Detroit. The Bruins are hungry to avenge last year’s Cup loss to Chicago. Then again it’s hard to overlook Detroit who has qualified for the playoffs in 23 straight seasons.
This series will be competitive, but it’s slanted toward the Presidents’ Trophy winning Bruins.
|Fri Apr 18||7:30 ET||Boston||NBCSN, TSN|
|Sun Apr 20||3 ET||Boston||NBC, TSN|
|Tue Apr 22||7:30 ET||Detroit||NBCSN, TSN|
|Thu Apr 24||8 ET||Detroit||NBCSN, TSN|
|*Sat Apr 26||3 ET||Boston||NBC, TSN|
|*Mon Apr 28||TBD||Detroit||TBD, TSN|
|*Wed Apr 30||8 ET||Boston|
My Prediction: Boston defeats Detoit in six games.