Going into this series, it seemed like a pretty safe assumption that Patrice Bergeron and Pavel Datsyuk were going to match up frequently. Maybe you’€™d give the Bruins a slight edge there given that Datsyuk is coming back from an injury, but for the most part, you’€™d expect that to be a back-and-forth dogfight. Sure enough, that’€™s more or less how Game 1 played out — their lines went against each other pretty much every time out, and the matchup was essentially a wash until Datsyuk’€™s goal with 3:01 left in the game.

In theory, that matchup should have freed up the Bruins’€™ top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla to pick on Detroit’€™s lesser lines and banged-up defensive corps. That didn’€™t happen, though.

In fact, that line played one of its worst games of the season in Game 1. It went up against the trio of Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar for the majority of its shifts (thanks to shiftchart.com for the excellent data), and found itself chasing the puck most of the night. Lucic, Krejci and Iginla were able to get what should have been a favorable matchup against Detroit’€™s second pairing of Kyle Quincey and Danny DeKeyser — an OK, but far-from-great duo — for about half their shifts, but they never really got a chance to take advantage because of how much time they spent in their own zone.

A lot was made of Detroit’€™s speed going into the series, and this was really the one place that it showed. Nyquist and Tatar motored their way through the neutral zone and into the Bruins’€™ end time and again, with the back pressure from Krejci and company a little too late too often. From there, the cycle was on, as Boston’€™s top trio had to resort to chasing the puck rather than possessing it. When they did get it, they struggled to get through the neutral zone and sustain any sort of offensive pressure.

The result was Lucic, Krejci and Iginla all finishing with Corsi percentages under 40 (according to the fantastic extraskater.com), marking just the sixth time this season their possession numbers as a line have dipped that low. In near perfect symmetry, Nyquist, Sheahan and Tatar all finished with Corsi percentages over 60. If the more basic shot on goal stat is your thing, Sheahan’€™s line had eight, while Krejci’€™s line had four. It is worth mentioning, however, that Krejci’€™s line had arguably the Bruins’€™ best chance all night when Lucic tipped an Iginla shot that wound up trickling just wide about 30 seconds before Datsyuk scored.

“We thought that the game was faster than it actually was. We have to play a little bit more with the puck,” Krejci said. “We just have to hold on to the puck and make some confident plays out there and that’€™s pretty much it. I don’€™t think that we had that many offensive chances out there today.”

Obviously Boston’€™s defensemen are part of this equation as well, and it’€™s true that the Bruins’€™ blue line wasn’€™t great Friday night. But Krejci’€™s line didn’€™t play with any one pairing more than any others, and the Bruins’€™ second and third lines didn’€™t get out-possessed nearly as much as the top line. No, the constants here were Krejci’€™s line and Sheahan’€™s line.

Of course, Friday night was only one game. If these two lines match up again in Game 2, the tables could very well turn and we could be talking about how great Lucic, Krejci and Iginla played. They’€™re one of the best lines in the NHL, and they’€™re certainly capable of winning pretty much any matchup.

But if they match up again and Krejci’€™s line continues to struggle, Claude Julien might have to look into other options, whether it’€™s trying Carl Soderberg‘€™s line against Sheahan’€™s, or even taking Bergeron off Datsyuk and putting his line out there.

“It was a tight, checking game, but nonetheless, I think everybody’€™s got to find a way to create more,” Julien said. “And that’€™s going to be the challenge in this series with two teams playing really tight. So it’€™s about everybody working a little harder and then gaining your space and doing what you have to do here.”

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin

It was the key moment of Game 1.

Jarome Iginla fired a centering pass from the right side boards to Milan Lucic with just over three minutes left in regulation. Lucic got a clean piece of the puck for a redirect on Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard. It appeared to be the perfect pass and perfect chance in a game that had precious few of each.

It was the key moment of Game 1.

Jarome Iginla fired a centering pass from the right side boards to Milan Lucic with just over three minutes left in regulation. Lucic got a clean piece of the puck for a redirect on Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard. It appeared to be the perfect pass and perfect chance in a game that had precious few of each.

But instead of the puck finding it’s way past Howard, the Detroit goalie got just enough to flick the puck wide of the goal mouth and out of harm’s way.

“It was a fortunate save,” Howard said. “It was pretty lucky. [Lucic] stuck his stick out and got a lot on it and it sort of just spun off my glove and I was able to get just enough on it. I was pretty lucky.”

The momentum swing didn’t end there. The pendulum, as it often does in a game like Friday night, swung completely the other way leading to a Red Wings rush up the ice. Wings veteran forward Pavel Datsyuk came across the Bruins blue line and, using the collision of Justin Abdelkader and Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton as a screen, fired a shot that beat Tuukka Rask on the far side for the game’s only goal and a 1-0 Detroit win.

“He was by himself there so I’m just thinking a shot there and then he drags it across and releases from our D’s legs so you just try to get the puck in your eyes and I couldn’t,” Rask said of Datsyuk’s shot. “It squeaked by me. Usually he tries to make a pass but I thought he was by himself there. I just couldn’t see it.

“It still went through me so I thought I should have it. But I didn’t see it.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

The Bruins were without their third and fourth line left wings and two bottom-four defensemen, but it was their best players who let up the game’s only goal as the Red Wings took Game 1 of the first round, 1-0.

The Bruins were without their third and fourth line left wings and two bottom-four defensemen, but it was their best players who let up the game’s only goal as the Red Wings took Game 1 of the first round, 1-0.

With the game scoreless late, Pavel Datsyuk beat Tuukka Rask with 3:01 left to get the Red Wings on the board. The goal came with Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara on the ice, marking Detroit’s fourth such goal this season. Chara and Bergeron had only allowed one 5-on-5 goal together all last season before allowing three to the Red Wings this past regular season.

The Bruins played the game without four regulars in Daniel Paille (head), Chris Kelly (back), Matt Bartkowski (undisclosed) and Kevan Miller (undisclosed; both he and Bartkowski were suspected to have the flu earlier in the week). With those four out, Justin Florek, Jordan Caron, Andrej Meszaros and Corey all played.

Jimmy Howard picked up the shutout for the Red Wings, making 25 saves.

The teams will play Game 2 Sunday at TD Garden.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- Patrice Bergeron‘s line, playing mostly against Detroit’s top line of Franzen – Datsyuk – Abdelkader and second pairing of Quincey – DeKeyser, had just two shots on goal through the first two periods. Both sides seemed OK with having the Bergeron and Datsyuk lines matched up against one another.

- The matchup that the Bruins need to exploit in this series is Boston’s bottom-six forwards against Detroit’s third pairing of Jakub Kindl and Brian Lashoff. They got some chances (Jordan Caron nearly had a goal in front in the second period) and Carl Soderberg’s line came on strong against them, but the B’s were unable to cash in. Keep an eye on those matchups going forward in the series.

- Not sure what Tuukka Rask was thinking when he came way out of his net to play a puck high in the zone in the third period. Florek and Potter were already giving chase to the puck, but Rask got to it and turned it over, leaving Potter to race to the net and make a save on Darren Helm’s shot.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Potter was more than serviceable as he played in place of Miller Friday night. Though he was the Bruins’ eighth defenseman at the end of the season, Potter got regular minutes on the third pairing with Torey Krug as they played mostly against Luke Glendening’s line.

- Boston’s penalty kill was strong in holding Detroit 0-for-2. The Bruins faced a major challenge when Zdeno Chara threw Brendan Smith into the boards at 16:08 of the first period and was assessed a boarding minor. With Chara in the box and the B’s already missing two regular blueliners, Johnny Boychuk killed the entire penalty, with Meszaros and Potter taking turns as his partner. Up front, the Bruins used Patrice Bergeron with Brad Marchand, David Krejci with Loui Eriksson and Gregory Campbell with Justin Florek. The group stayed the course, limiting Detroit to just a Johan Franzen shot on goal.

In the second period, Torey Krug went off for a hold on Johan Franzen, with Eriksson having the only shot on goal during the Red Wings power play. Potter and Florek also played during that penalty kill.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Not only were Daniel Paille, Chris Kelly and Matt Bartkowski absent from warmups Friday night before Game 1, but Kevan Miller was missing as well.

Kevan Miller

Kevan Miller

Not only were Daniel Paille, Chris Kelly and Matt Bartkowski absent from warmups Friday night before Game 1, but Kevan Miller was missing as well.

Paille (head), Kelly (back) and Bartkowski (likely the flu) missed each practice this week, while Miller missed Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s before practicing Thursday and missing Friday’s morning skate.

Offensively, that means the B’s will play with both Justin Florek and Jordan Caron in the lineup, while Andrej Meszaros and Corey Potter will also play. The team’s lineup in warmups was as follows:

Lucic – Krejci – Iginla
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Florek – Soderberg – Eriksson
Caron – Campbell – Thornton

Chara – Boychuk
Krug – Hamilton
Meszaros – Potter

For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Pierre McGuire

Pierre McGuire

NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

For McGuire, Friday night’s matchup against the Red Wings is the toughest scenario the Bruins could have faced.

“The only reason I say that is the creativity of Mike Babcock, [Detroit's] coach,” McGuire said. “I think most people know on paper the rosters don’t compare. Boston’s roster is better on paper than Detroit’s just because of the veteran experience and the fact that most of the players on the Bruins roster have been part of a Stanley Cup run to the final and/or won a Stanley Cup.

“A lot of these Detroit players really haven’t been a part of that. It’s really been a huge turnover in their roster — some because of injury, some because of retirement and some just because they had no other choice. The one thing I will say about this Detroit roster is a lot of the younger players you’€™ll see won an American [Hockey] League championship last year in Grand Rapids.”

One of the main concerns for the Bruins is the Red Wings’ speed.

“œThat’s going to be the No. 1 thing to watch early on,” McGuire said. “Watch what they do when they’re attacking Zdeno Chara. Watch what they do when they’re attacking Johnny Boychuk – two of the bigger, more important defensemen for the Bruins just because of the shutdown capabilities. Let’s see if they play chip-and-chase hockey or if they really try to stretch them out and create huge seams.

“You won’€™t know until the game starts, but this is going back to my point about Mike Babcock — to me he is the most creative coach in the NHL. Doesn’t mean he’€™s the best — although he’s getting one of my votes for Coach of the Year. I think he’€™s the most creative coach in the National Hockey League and we’€™ll see how he breaks down the Bruins defense because the Bruins defense, as we know, is extremely good.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.

On Tuukka Rask: “I wish I had a vote for the Vezina. I don’t — the only award I can vote on is Coach of the year — but if I did, Tuukka Rask would be my Vezina Trophy winner. He would get my No. 1 vote. He is, in my opinion anyways, and I say this with all respect to Semyon Varlamov and Henrik Lundqvist and all the other goaltenders out there because there have been a lot of them this year in a lot of different cities, I think Tuuka Rask has been the best goalie. He’s a big reason why the Fins won a bronze medal. He’s a major reason why the Bruins won the Presidents’ Trophy, and I think he’s also grown unbelievably in terms of his composure — his ability to relate to his teammates and also dealing with big situations. He’s unflappable. He really is. I have tremendous respect for what he’s done this year.”

On Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille: “That’s a big concern. You’ve definitely got to look at that, and Chris Kelly‘s such an effective player not just five-on-five and insulating Carl Soderberg in particular and Loui Eriksson, but also because he’s such an important part of the penalty kill. And so Chris Kelly‘s going to be a huge loss and Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell are one of the best tandems when it comes to killing penalties in the entire league, so that’s a big loss, too. I mean, again, you look at it, and it doesn’t make it any easier for Boston, but … on paper, Boston’s a better team. Now they’ve got to prove it. It’s that simple.”

Blog Author: 
Meredith Perri

Pressure is what you make it.

As the Stanley Cup playoffs begin, the Bruins are making it nothing more than chance to fulfill their own expectations.

According to the Vegas line provided by Bodog.com, the Bruins are 7-2 favorites to win their second Stanley Cup in four years by the time late June rolls around, and for good reason. They are relatively healthy heading into the playoffs, though nursing injuries to Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly while battling a flu bug.

“Well, we never get comfortable,” Claude Julien said before Friday’s Game 1 with the Red Wings. “We’€™ve always talked about that. No matter what we’€™ve accomplished, we always know that the good things happen from hard work, so the minute we stop working hard and focusing on the areas we need to focus on, things can change. So that’€™s always been our approach.”

But it’s not the flu or injuries to Paille or Kelly that are of primary concern – it’s the parity in the Stanley Cup playoffs that present the biggest obstacle. Julien reminded everyone Friday that there’s nothing to be taken for granted when a team like the Bruins take on a club like the Red Wings, a difference of 24 points in the season standings.

“Not with parity,” Julien said. “I don’€™t think that exists anymore. I’€™ve been mentioning that for the last couple of days, about the percentage of upsets in the first round over the last couple of years. So it just goes to prove to you that anything can happen in the playoffs. We’€™ve seen it many times before and I don’€™t expect that to change this year also.”

Bruins defenseman Torey Krug says he learned a lot from his first experience in the playoffs last year. That experience, he says, will help as he and the Bruins open the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs against the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden.

“Pressure is whatever you put on yourself,” Krug said. “This team has high expectations of itself. I wouldn’t call it pressure. We’re going to respond well to whatever it is. We’re excited to get things going.”

Krug broke onto the scene in the 2014 playoffs as a power play weapon and an offensive force.

“You have to play like that,” Krug contined. “If you’re scared to make mistakes, the puck is going to end up in the back of your own net. You have to make sure you play with confidence. That’s the same message the coaching staff was preaching today. It’s the same thing as last summer. Just eager to get going. It’s an exciting time.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia