The Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings are headed in opposite directions as they prepare to meet at TD Garden in this week's Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, NHL.TV).
Detroit would need a miraculous finish to continue its streak of 25 consecutive appearances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Red Wings come to Boston following a 3-2 loss at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday that saw them fall behind by three goals. The Red Wings are last in the Eastern Conference, 12 points out of the second wild card.
The Bruins are third in the Atlantic Division, two points ahead of Toronto. But they're also just four points behind the Ottawa Senators and 10 behind the Montreal Canadiens. The Bruins play 10 of their final 16 games at home.
Here are 5 reasons to tune in:
Boston has failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of the past two seasons. To find the last time they missed the postseason three years running, you have to go back to the end of the Original Six era, when Boston failed to qualify for eight consecutive seasons, from 1959-60 to 1966-67.
Video: Coors Light Wednesday Night Rivalry Preview: DET@BOS
Brad Marchand …
Marchand is every bit the pest he was when he entered the NHL in the 2009-10 season. What's different is that the rest of his game has grown. Marchand has scored 30 goals for the second straight season, and with 68 points he's already gone past his previous career best of 61, set last season. He's dangerous in all situations, with seven power-play goals and three shorthanded goals. He is also 2-for-4 in the shootout, and is the only Bruin with more than one goal in the tiebreaker.
Video: BOS@OTT: Marchand kicks rebound to tape and nets PPG
… and his linemates
No line does a better job of driving play than the trio of Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. Marchand leads the NHL in shot attempts, at plus-374, followed by Bergeron at plus-364. Pastrnak, who's played 59 of Boston's 66 games, is fifth, and third among forwards at plus-269. Bruins defenseman Torey Krug is third at plus-353.
Video: BOS@LAK: Pastrnak breaks stick on knuckleball PPG
The Bruins have played like a different team since Feb. 7, when they fired coach Claude Julien and replaced him with assistant Bruce Cassidy. Boston is 8-3-0 since the change and has turned around its season under Cassidy, showing the kind of energy, focus and sense of purpose they didn't show enough of under Julien. Cassidy has Boston playing more of an attacking style, with all five skaters looking to move the puck into the attacking zone, then create once they're in. So far, so good.
Detroit's captain typifies the kind of player that made the Red Wings an elite team for so many years: Smart, talented, unselfish - and a leader. He's the team scoring leader with 53 points (14 goals, 39 assists), and as one of the few remaining players from Detroit's glory days, he's counted on to set an example for a very young team. At 36, he's 11 points away from 900 in his NHL career and is on target to play his 1,000th NHL game on the final day of the regular season, which would also be the final game played at Joe Louis Arena.
Video: NYI@DET: Zetterberg buries PPG with 0.1 on the clock