In Game 1, the Red Wings played a tight defensive game, they skated hard and they refrained from engaging in any post-whistle shenanigans.
In Game 2, the Red Wings became completely undone after the Bruins scored twice in the first period. Even when they had opportunities to right the ship, defensive lapses cost them dearly and they paid the price in the form of a 4-1 loss at TD Garden.
Now, as the series shifts to Joe Louis Arena for Games 3 and 4, the Wings are singing the same tune that carried them to a Game 1 win: Let’s play our game.
“It’s going to be tough beating them at their game,” said defenseman Niklas Kronwall following Detroit's pregame skate on Tuesday morning. “So we have to do a good job sticking to ours.”
It was Kronwall’s partner on the back end, Brendan Smith, that infamously engaged then backed off from a fight with towering Bruins captain Zdeno Chara as the first period came to a close on Sunday. He wasn’t the only one who bit when the Bruins came calling, but he and the rest of the Red Wings won’t make the same mistake at the Joe on Tuesday.
“I think we got off our game a little bit,” was forward Justin Abdelkader's take. “We got going there — once we got that first goal, I thought we got playing well, and then it’s tough after that third one. But I think Game 1 was — we showed that we can skate, we can use our speed. We don’t need to get involved in anything extra.”
“All that stuff after the whistle is pointless, anyway, so that’s what they kind of thrive off of, and we’re just going to focus on going out and playing our brand of hockey.”
The Bruins, of course, will come into Tuesday’s game vowing to play their game, too. Their game is physical and gritty, and it thrives off emotions. The Red Wings insist they won’t fall into those traps in Game 3, no matter how much the Bruins try to goad them.
The Red Wings repeated the phrase, ad nauseam, after their pregame skate: Just skate away after the whistle. Just skate away.
“At this time of year, the most important thing is to go out there, get the win and stay healthy,” Abdelkader said. “And we just want to go out there and, like I said, just play the way we’re capable of playing — use our speed, use our skill and we’ll be fine.”
“You know, you just got to skate away. Especially, obviously, playing in Boston, it’s what kind of riles them up — the team, and the fans, and all that stuff. Especially, I’d be cautious in their building, but even at home, just play between the whistles, play hard and go to the net. And after that, you can skate away, I guess. There’s nothing that really needs to be said after. I think you can be a hard player, be a physical player and play between the whistles. You don’t need to do the stuff after the whistle.”
Alfredsson Out; Andersson In
Red Wings Head Coach Mike Babcock said forward Daniel Alfredsson will miss Tuesday’s game, as he will need another day or so to recover from a back ailment.
As a result, Joakim Andersson will take his place in the lineup. He will most likely play on the third line with Darren Helm and Tomas Jurco but could shift to the fourth line with Luke Glendening and David Legwand.
Alfredsson logged 12 minutes of ice time in Game 1 and 17 minutes in Game 2, but as was the case for most of the Red Wings, offense was hard to come by.
After breaking his foot blocking while blocking a shot in early March, Andersson played just two games in the month of April, one of which came against the Bruins on April 2. In that game, he registered one shot in just over nine minutes of ice time.
“I had a couple of tough breaks with injuries there, but I thought I did a pretty good job there when I came back from injury,” Andersson said after Detroit’s morning skate. “I just got to go out there tonight and play my game.”
Babcock is confident that Andersson will give the Wings a much-needed boost on the penalty kill, which allowed two goals on seven opportunities in Sunday’s loss.
“We thought our penalty killing was average — we thought our special teams was average last game,” Babcock said. “Andersson can help our penalty kill. He’s a good faceoff guy, big body, knows how to play.”
Special Teams War Continues
Sunday’s game was a tale of two teams in terms of special teams: The Bruins were rolling on both the power play and the penalty kill, while the Red Wings were ineffective on both.
Not only did Detroit allow two goals on the PK — one in the first period and a dagger in the third that set Detroit back 4-1 — but they could not capitalize on seven power play opportunities of their own.
As a result, Abdelkader said the past couple of days have been all about adjustments.
“We’ve made some adjustments and looked at some video, and that’s something that obviously needs to be corrected — just getting in the zone, getting some offensive zone time, just keeping it simple, getting pucks on the net, creating opportunity,” he said. “Series are always about adjustments and changing things and seeing what the other team does and kind of adjusting that way, and I think it’ll be fine. It’s something that has been pretty good all year, and we made adjustments.”
On the penalty kill, the Red Wings seemed to struggle against Boston’s net-front presence, whether it came from Loui Eriksson or Zdeno Chara clogging up the crease. Both factored into Boston’s power play goals: Eriksson’s strength in front set up Reilly Smith’s tally in the first period, while Chara poked the puck past Jimmy Howard for the score in the third.
Kronwall said that Chara’s 6-foot-9 frame is not easy to contend with, but that’s still no excuse.
“He’s pretty big — there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “But we have to do a good job, and I think so far, we’ve been kind of leaving him alone. If we get in there, too, there’s two guys screening the goalie so make sure we get one guy on each post.”
Babcock said there’s no big secret as to why Detroit couldn’t get anything going on the man advantage on Sunday. The answer lies on the faceoff dot.
“The big thing you can solve the problem, though — you don’t even have to break out. Just win the faceoff and get shooting and getting it back,” he said. “That would be the first thing. The second thing is, we obviously got to have a better plan and execution on our power play. The biggest thing for us is we got to execute. Our first power play, we came out with no pressure -- we passed it to the boards, and then you start getting rattled.”
“Forget all that. Let’s get some swagger back. Let’s get going, let’s enter and let’s attack. But why not win a faceoff and get going?”
Red Wings Projected Lineup for Game 3 vs. Bruins
Tomas Tatar — Riley Sheahan — Gustav Nyquist
Johan Franzen — Pavel Datsyuk — Justin Abdelkader
Tomas Jurco — Darren Helm — Joakim Andersson
Drew Miller — Luke Glendening — David Legwand
Niklas Kronwall — Brendan Smith
Kyle Quincey — Danny DeKeyser
Brian Lashoff — Jakub Kindl
Goaltender: Jimmy Howard