By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – For many hockey fans, the first-round series between the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings may just qualify as a dream matchup. The Original Six foes have not met in the postseason since 1957. The Bruins, Stanley Cup runners-up last season and winners of the Presidents’ Trophy this season, will face a Red Wings team that had to scrap hard just to make the playoffs after dealing with crippling injuries all year.
Even so, Detroit has bested Boston in three of four meetings between the teams this season. The best-of-seven series format obviously favors the overall stronger team, making upsets difficult at best, if not next to impossible when the opponent is the strongest team in the league. Still, Detroit pulled the first round upset after squeaking into the playoffs last season, so it hardly seems safe to count the Red Wings out.
Below is the video the Red Wings produced leading up to the series.
Detroit made it to the playoffs this season largely on the strength of its youth and a few veterans that avoided injury, most notably Niklas Kronwall and Daniel Alfredsson. Recently, the Red Wings have gotten some players back, and if they make it past Boston, they could have both their stars, Datsyuk and Zetterberg, back in action.
Datsyuk missed all but one game in January and the entire month of March, but he returned April 4. Datsyuk had two assists for the Red Wings in their season-ending shutout of the St. Louis Blues. Zetterberg returned to skating with the team Thursday and expected to be back either at the end of Round One or in time for Round Two.
24-year-old Gustav Nyquist, who turned into a superstar with many veterans injured throughout the season, still leads the team with 28 goals but has not scored since the return of Datysuk. Nyquist and other former Grand Rapids Griffins like Riley Sheahan, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco and Luke Glendening have played significant roles for Detroit, and continued productivity from them is vital if the Red Wings are to advance. Much has been made of the group’s relative lack of NHL playoff experience, but veteran Johan Franzen was not too worried about it.
“It probably depends what kind of player you are,” Franzen said a week ago. “Some guys even without the experience, they’re gamers and nothing gets to them … but for some players it could be a little intimidating, maybe, the first few games before you’re into it because it’s a lot higher pace and a lot more hitting. It’s a tight game out there, so it’s depending on what kind of player you are.”
Franzen feels that the youngsters on Detroit’s roster fall into the former category.
“Most of them been under the gun,” Franzen said. “We’ve been playing like we have to win for pretty much the last month, so they’ve been under the gun, and they’ve been doing a great job. I think we’ve got a good group of strong-minded guys in here.”