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And that's why Bruins fans everywhere did not want to face the Detroit Red Wings
Bergeron and the B's drop Game 1 vs the Wings (via espn.com)

After grinding through 56 minutes of defensive structure, body checks, and stick checks, one act of offensive brilliance undid it all for the Black and Gold.

The Detroit Red Wings beat the Bruins in Game 1 of the Divisional Semifinals at the TD Garden, coming out on top to a final score of 1-0, with the lone goal coming from Pavel Datsyuk at 16:59 of the third period.

Tuukka Rask made 23 saves in the contest. Detroit's Jimmy Howard stopped all 25 shots he faced to record his third-career postseason shutout.

In the span of one rush up the ice, it was Datsyuk who reminded the NHL why he's the most dangerous man on skates. His slick stick-tip/pass to himself in the neutral zone went between his legs and onto his stick. He gained the Bruins' blueline, wound up and unleashed a laser beam of a shot that beat Rask just below the glove.

Game-winner.

Just a few seconds before at the other end of the ice, it was the Bruins who thought they had opened the scoring in the game, when Milan Lucic deflected Jarome Iginla's wrist shot from just inside the blueline. The puck hit off the inside of Jimmy Howard's glove and passed agonizingly through the crease and back past the far post.  

That was the moment many Bruins fans probably felt tonight just wasn't going to be their night.

Through the course of the game, premium scoring chances were limited, as both teams buckled down and made sure to keep true to their defensive structures. But as the minutes ticked on, it was the Wings who began their game-long practice of outworking and outskating the Bruins. 

The Wings used their speed, leaving the Bruins to play catch up for much of the contest. The Wings found the lose pucks and broke up play through the middle of the ice and forced the Bruins to either play dump and chase or try to push through the bodies along the boards. 

The handful of chances the Bruins had were few and far between, as their first major scoring opportunity came halfway through the second period when a Torey Krug slapshot deflected and bounced off Jordan Caron and towards the net. But the puck went wide past the post, and even when Caron stuck with it with a wrap-around attempt, he couldn't get enough on the shot.

The third line of Carl Soderberg, Loui Eriksson and Justin Florek had a series of chances in the third period, with Loui and Carl working a one-two in close to the crease before it was cleared by the Wings, and Florek ripping a shot high and wide just past the open net.

After Datysuk's goal and working with just two minutes and change on the clock, the Bruins still couldn't find a clear chance. And with Rask pulled, the Bruins couldn't get the puck on net, and the game ended without a real chance with the extra-skater.

One thing is very clear after the book has been closed on Game 1: the Bruins have a serious battle in front of them. What Bruins fans had feared about the Wings is very much the reality: the Wings are quick, the Wings are tough and the Wings have skill.

Detroit can adapt to any sort of game they need to play. If they need to open it up and skate with speed through all three zones, they can do it. If they need to slow it down and take the body while closing off passing and scoring lanes, they can do that too. That's what makes Detroit such a dangerous team. They haven't made the playoffs for 23 straight years by accident. 

The one that got away; Datsyuk beats Rask for the game-winner (via espn.com)

The Wings perfected the art of playing keep away from the B's, grabbing loose pucks in open space and forcing them to play catch-up. The Wings are quick and agile in space, but they are more than capable of matching the grinding, heavy style of the Bruins.

Heading into the series, much was made of Boston's depth and Detroit's injuries. By the time the puck dropped on Game 1, those storylines had been flipped 180 degrees the other way in a matter of minutes.

The Bruins were the ones facing injury questions; after missing practice through the week, the foursome of Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille, Matt Bartkowski and Kevan Miller were on the scratch list. Insert Jordan Caron, Justin Florek, Corey Potter and Andrej Meszaros.
                                                         
Yet even with the downgrade in quality and the disruption of the bottom two offensive and defensive lines, that was not the reason why the Bruins lost this game.

The Bruins lost because they couldn't gain any sort of traction in the offensive zone and they couldn't gain a footing to set up their game. Whenever they tried to establish a presence in the corners or through the cycle game, the Wings broke it up and broke the other way.

The Red Wings, as they've done for over two decades now, are a team you can't shake. They skate hard, play smart and know how to take advantage of who they're playing. 

The Bruins have until 3:00 Sunday to adjust to the Wings amorphous style and find the holes in their game. Going to Detroit down 0-2 is not an option for this team.   


Mark Burke 4/18/2014 11:44:00 PM Edit

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