Bruins, Wings still trying to hit their strides
Tuesday, 11.03.2009 / 7:00 PM
Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor BRUINS (6-6-1) at RED WINGS (5-4-3)
Last 10: Boston 4-4-2; Detroit 5-2-3.
Season Series: This is the lone meeting between the teams this season. Blake Wheeler and David Krejci both had a goal and an assist to lead Boston to a 4-1 win against Detroit at TD Garden on Nov. 29, 2008.
Big Story: After dominant regular seasons by both clubs in 2008-09, the Wings and Bruins haven't experienced the success that has been projected thus far this time around. Goaltending has played a huge role in Detroit's mediocre start, as the club is allowing more than three goals per game (3.33). Boston's offense, meanwhile, is struggling, as it's averaging only 2.38 goals per contest. The Bruins have scored only twice in their last 36 power-play opportunities.
Bruins: With Marc Savard and Milan Lucic out with injuries, Boston's offense has been nothing short of anemic. The Bruins, who have scored only three goals in their last three games, rarely tested Henrik Lundqvist on Sunday in a 1-0 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
"We played hard," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "We did everything, except right now we're just not scoring goals. Until that happens, we're going to be dealing with these types of games. It becomes frustrating for everybody."
Red Wings: As if the goaltending issue wasn't enough, the Red Wings are still trying to find their way offensively without the likes of Marian Hossa, Johan Franzen and Jiri Hudler. Hossa bolted for Chicago via free agency last summer, while Hudler opted to go the KHL. Franzen is rehabbing from a torn ACL and is likely out until after the Olympics.
Pavel Datsyuk has helped carry the load, as the phenomenal two-way player has eight points in his last five games.
"We skated well and maybe for the first time all year we were a five-man unit and made some nice plays," Wings coach Mike Babcock said after a 3-1 win at Calgary on Saturday. "I liked the goals we scored and the way we went about our business tonight. It was impressive."
Who's Hot: Tim Thomas has done his best to keep his low-scoring Bruins in games. In nine appearances, Thomas has 2.66 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage. The Bruins have scored only four goals in last season's Vezina Trophy winner's five losses.
Tomas Holmstrom has been solid for the Red Wings, especially on the power play. Holmstrom, who has never been afraid to go straight to the net, has seven goals in 12 games. Three of those tallies have come with the man advantage. … Henrik Zetterberg has only scored twice, but he does have nine assists.
Injury Report: Savard and Lucic are both on the IR and are expected to miss 4-6 weeks. … Right wing Byron Bitz is day-to-day with a groin injury.
Besides Franzen, the Wings are now also without Valtteri Filppula, who broke his wrist last Thursday in Edmonton. He is expected to be out until late December. … Defenseman Andreas Lilja is on IR due to post-concussion syndrome. … Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson missed Saturday's game due to the flu, but is expected to play against the Bruins.
Stat Pack: The Bruins need more from Zdeno Chara. The 6-foot-9 defenseman, who scored 19 goals a season ago, has yet to find the back of the net. … Despite their .500 start, the Bruins have yet to lose back-to-back games. Then again, they haven't won two in a row, either.
Puck Drop: This is a classic case of a team that can't score facing a team that's experienced difficulty preventing goals. If the Bruins are ever going to snap out of their offensive funk, Tuesday would seem a pretty good time to do it.