Original Six match-ups are nothing new for Boston, with the likes of Toronto and Montreal in the division, but with Detroit joining the Eastern Conference in the new Atlantic Divisions with the B's this season, the Wings could grow into a familiar foe.
"It's an exciting match-up. First time coming over to the East side in a long time. Divisional rival now, Original Six team, so I think it should be exciting for everyone," said Shawn Thornton following the team's pregame skate. "They're a good team, they've been together a long time and they're competitive every year, so this will be a good test for us."
The match-up also pits two well-structured, well-coached teams who place an emphasis on the defensive side of the puck to be able to generate puck possession and offensive chances.
"They always have their players above ours. And very seldom do you get outnumbered situations and you have to be willing to fight for those pucks and you have to be willing to get it by them and go after it again," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said pregame. "You’re not going to get a run-and-gun type game against that team because they defend so well."
"We’re going to have to have really good puck movement; do it quickly so that we don’t give them a chance to get into those good situations and at the same time we’re going to have to be winning the chip pucks and chase it and get into some battles here."
"It takes you, as a coach doing a pre-scout on Boston, about six minutes, and I would think the same on Detroit," Wings Head Coach Mike Babcock said, of the teams' styles of play.
"Because they're not trying to trick you; they're just going to do it right over and over and over again. You just see the same thing over again. The reason they're successful is because they are organized, they've got people in the right spots. They've obviously got real good depth to their lineup and real good players, but they do it right, and to me, that's what good teams do. They do it right."
Meeting of the Minds
Special teams will also be a factor. Babcock wasn't too pleased with his power play on Friday night, even if the Wings came back to force overtime and eventual take the game in Carolina, 3-2, before their back-to-back in Boston.
Julien is also looking for his club's man-advantage to have a better showing tonight, after not being able to generate much in the home opener (despite the win) on Thursday night. It wasn't that they didn't have movement once they set up in the zone; it was more about breaking through Tampa Bay's pressure to even get in place to run the power play formations.
"Our penalty kill was really, really good last game; sharp and on top of it, of what they had to do. Especially on those 5-on-3’s I thought those were the keys to the game. As far as power play, hopefully we’ll see a better one tonight and get a better sample of it," said Julien.
The penalty kill and 5-on-3 situations were so sharp, that Babcock said he discussed it with Julien on Saturday morning. Besides having known each other for years, and being on the coaching staff for Team Canada at the 2014 Olympics, the pair of bench bosses used their meeting time to learn from each other, as per usual.
The best learn from the best.
Julien Liking Reliability of Third Line
For Boston, Carl Soderberg is still recovering from an ankle injury and hasn't yet been back on the ice, though Julien said Friday that he's progressing and "should be on the ice soon."
Jordan Caron will continue to fill in on the left wing, with Chris Kelly and Reilly Smith. Julien has liked what he's seen so far from the trio, on the forecheck, and both sides of the puck.
"Reilly’s still a young player and so is Jordan. We’re forgetting that those guys are 23-years old. To have a guy in the middle that’s got some experience and to be able, when I say reliable it’s not just defensively, I need to rely on them offensively as well," said Julien.
"They have to be able to create some stuff, some scoring opportunities; which is what we talked about last year about trying to find with our third line. So right now they’ve given us that."
"They’ve given us what we want."
"And I think for Reilly, he’s a young player, last year he played a lot in Dallas but hadn’t played much before that. So it’s an opportunity for him to probably get a jump at it a little quicker than Loui who’s been doing the same ting there for so many years."
"I’ve liked Reilly’s game. I think he and those other new guys are just going to get better with our team as they get more comfortable and used to it."
"Sometimes when it’s new, you have to think about it a lot. And what I try and create with our guys is a situation where it becomes second nature. So, less thinking, more action, and that takes time."
The Red Wings lineup should look fairly the same as Friday night against Carolina. Babcock said their back end will remain the same, pitting Reilly Smith against his brother, Wings' defenseman Brendan.
"Usually pretty competitive and we battle hard against each other so it should be fun," said Smith, who shot off a text to his brother last night after the win in Carolina. But, his focus remains on the task at hand, and not on getting one up on his brother.
"Detroit has a good team so obviously focused more on that than sibling rivalry."
As for the forwards, Babcock was tight-lipped about changes but did suggest 22-year-old winger Tomas Tatar would be in the lineup. He has 27 games of NHL experience and was a vital part of the 2013 Grand Rapids Griffins team that won the 2013 Calder Cup.
Projected Boston Lineup
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Loui Eriksson
Jordan Caron-Chris Kelly-Reilly Smith
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg-Dougie Hamilton*
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
*Matt Bartkowski rotated with this pairing, but it appears the lineup will be the same as Thursday for the home opener.
Hamilton's play was assertive, and more physical, in the opener, and Julien liked his game.
"Those young guys are really working hard more on the defensive zone. You look at the Krugs and those guys, they move the puck well, they support the attack well, they shoot the puck well and they move it well," said Julien.
"So the biggest thing is defending, especially in our own end. And that’s just about experience."
Detroit Lineup from Friday
Henrik Zetterberg-Pavel Datsyuk-Justin Abdelkader
Johan Franzen-Stephen Weiss-Daniel Alfredsson*
Todd Bertuzzi-Joakim Andersson-Daniel Cleary
Drew Miller-Cory Emmerton-Mikael Samuelsson
Niklas Kronwall-Jonathan Ericsson
Danny DeKeyser-Jakub Kindl
Kyle Quincey-Brendan Smith
*With Tomas Tatar expected in the lineup, it seems likely that the winger will be on the second or third line. Alfredsson was nursing a groin injury during the preseason, but warm-ups tonight will be the best indication, as opposed to playing the guessing game.