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Bruins, Red Wings start first playoff series since 1957

by Matt Kalman

RED WINGS (39-28-15) at BRUINS (54-19-9)


Last 10: Detroit 6-3-1; Boston 5-2-3

Season series: The Detroit Red Wings won three of four games from the Boston Bruins in the regular season, including two one-goal victories.

Big story: Dwight Eisenhower was president, Jackie Robinson retired from baseball and a 22-year-old Elvis Presley paid $100,000 to buy a place called Graceland. That all happened in 1957, along with the most recent matchup in the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Red Wings and Bruins -- until now.

While the Bruins were able to coast into the postseason for the most part and the Red Wings had to scratch and claw to earn one of two wild-card berths in the Eastern Conference, the potential exists for a long series if Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard and the defense can contain a potent Boston offense.

Team Scope:

Bruins: Boston enters the playoffs as the No. 1 overall seed for just the 13th time in franchise history after winning the Presidents' Trophy for the second time. Although the Bruins finished 15 wins and 24 points ahead of the Red Wings in the standings, they know the first round is never easy. Boston has played a seven-game series to start each of the past three postseasons, and in coach Claude Julien's six playoff seasons the Bruins have played seven games in the first round four times.

"I don't know, it just seems to be the biggest battle for us and the hardest one to get through," forward Milan Lucic said. "I don't think it's going to be any different heading into this series. So we've got to be prepared to bring our best because you talk about the last three years, you know the other team hasn't taken us lightly at all and they've given us their best. And maybe we kind of overlooked, I guess, the other team a little too much where we kind of got ourselves into holes and got into a Game 7 overtime situation the last three years. So hopefully our mindset is where it needs to be in order for us to bring our best."

Red Wings: Detroit wanted to be switched to the Eastern Conference, and the League realignment this season made that happen. Now in the playoffs for the 23rd straight season, the Red Wings will get to see if they have what it takes to advance in their new conference. In the Western Conference, the Red Wings advanced beyond the first round five out of the past six seasons, winning the Stanley Cup as recently as 2008 and returning to the Final in 2009.

There might be a different style for the Red Wings to adjust to, but they're not worried.

"Sure, the Bruins and some of the other teams from the East are physical, but we played Anaheim last year and they're big and physical," forward Gustav Nyquist said. "I think the biggest thing is the travel. You don't have to travel three different time zones, and that affects you more than you know."

Who's hot: Forward Reilly Smith led the Bruins with four points against the Red Wings in the regular season. Center Patrice Bergeron had points in his last 13 games (11 goals, six assists). Bergeron's linemate, Brad Marchand, had points in eight of his final 10 games (three goals, seven assists). … Forwards Tomas Tatar, Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen were Detroit's top scorers against Boston with four points. Center Pavel Datsyuk had four points in four games after going point-less in his first game back from injury. Center Riley Sheahan scored a goal in each of his final three games of the regular season.

Injury report: Boston forwards Daniel Paille (head) and Chris Kelly (back) and defenseman Matt Bartkowski (undisclosed) did not practice this week. Paille did not play in the Bruins' last regular season game. Kelly missed the last three games. … Detroit center Henrik Zetterberg (back) started skating this week and is targeting the second round for a return to the lineup. Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (hand) plans to start skating this week.

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