Even the coaches have an interesting tie-in. Bruins coach Claude Julien was an assistant for Detroit coach Mike Babcock with the gold-medal winning Canada team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics in February.
Julien said he doesn't think that relationship gave either coach an edge heading into Game 1 on Friday at TD Garden (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN, NBCSN, FS-D, NESN).
"I think we're on even grounds there," Julien said Tuesday after practice at TD Garden. "We all got to know each other a little bit better, but … there's no secrets in this game anymore. And I think at the same time, I know his tendencies, he knows mine. It's just going to make for a more interesting series. But I don't think there's that big of a difference between the two of us because we worked together or if I was going against someone else that I didn't work with. We know pretty well our tendencies, not just players' but also coaches' tendencies. How certain guys are hard matchers, other guys don't and that kind of stuff. That's part of our homework that we have to do as coaches."
Part of that homework is looking back at the four games the Bruins and Red Wings played against one another in the regular season. Detroit won three of the four, but three of those games were played in October and November. Injuries have greatly changed the look of Detroit's roster since those first couple months of the season.
Regardless of the personnel, the Bruins know the Red Wings' strengths are usually the same.
"I mean I think they have had a lot of changes in the lineup. But, as you see, these guys have come in and done really well," Bruins center Gregory Campbell said. "And I think that speaks to their coaching staff and just the system that they've had in place for so long in Detroit. People are just so amazed at their team, you know they keep winning and keep having success, and it's just because of the way that they play. So they find players that fit into that system and are willing to play that role and play that way. We did just play them. They had almost a completely different lineup from the beginning of the season, but they still play the same way."
Campbell explained it'll be important for the Boston forwards to support the defensemen when Detroit attacks. He said the Red Wings forwards like to look back to hit the trailer with a pass. The Bruins will have to try to impose their will on the Red Wings physically, according to forward Brad Marchand.
"Yeah, they have a ton of [speed], a lot of guys with skill," Marchand said. "You know I think the biggest thing is to try to slow them down and try to be physical."
The Bruins and Red Wings were in the Atlantic Division together for the first time this season. There really hasn't been much history between the two in the 60-plus years since they last met in the playoffs.
The Bruins often feed off their emotions against some of their tougher rivals, but they might have to dig a little deeper to find hate for the Red Wings.
"It all depends. I mean, every series is different," Marchand said. "I mean, you look at [the Chicago Blackhawks] last year [in the Stanley Cup Final], we really didn't have any hate for them at all. And so I mean every team's different, and we just have to find a way to focus on how we play and play our game. We have to play mean and gritty and battle hard, and I'm sure they're going to do the same, and that'll create some hatred right there."