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Five things to watch as Red Wings face Bruins

by Dan Rosen

Frustrated and optimistic are two words that aptly describe how the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings are feeling as they head into their NBCSN Wednesday Night Rivalry game at Joe Louis Arena (8 p.m. ET).

The Bruins felt they played well enough Monday against the Colorado Avalanche to win, or at least salvage a point. They did neither as Daniel Briere took it away with a buzzer-beating game-winning goal, handing the Bruins their third straight regulation loss since a season-opening win.

The Red Wings felt they played well enough to win, or at least earn a point, this past Saturday against the Anaheim Ducks. It didn't happen as Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf scored the winning goal with 24 seconds remaining in regulation.

1-3-0 (6th, Atlantic) 2013-14 Record 1-1-0 (5th, Atlantic)
2939-2243-791-121 All-Time Record 2775-2329-815-107
236-250-95-3 Head-to-Head Regular-Season Record 253-235-95-1
0-4-0 Streak vs. Opponent 4-0-0
0-5-0 @ Detroit Home/Road Streak vs. Opponent 5-0-0 vs. Bruins
6 Stanley Cup Championships 11
48 Hockey Hall of Fame Members 48
Bobby Orr Most Famous Alumnus Gordie Howe
12 Hart Trophy Winners 9
69 Postseason Appearances 62
Adam Oates (1992-97) Best Player in Common Adam Oates (1985-89)

"We outchanced them," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said during a phone interview after practice Tuesday. "We gave up 12 chances in the game. I thought we did lots of good things in the game. So to me that's positive; let's just keep building on it."

The Bruins might be slightly more frustrated than optimistic because they are struggling to score. They have four goals in four games, including two goals in three games since a 2-1 season-opening win against the Philadelphia Flyers.

The players are predictably talking about squeezing their sticks too tightly and coach Claude Julien said they are guilty of complicating matters when they have the puck rather than simplifying their game to score.

The Red Wings might be more optimistic than frustrated because they are happy with how they've played despite being without center Pavel Datsyuk. He's nursing a shoulder injury and might be able to return by the weekend.

"When he's ready they'll tell me," Babcock said.

Here are five things to watch in the second of five games between the Bruins and Red Wings this season:

1. Gagne's debut -- Veteran left wing Simon Gagne is back in the NHL after signing a one-year, $600,000 contract with the Bruins on Tuesday. He is expected to make his season debut against the Red Wings. It will be Gagne's 800th NHL game, but his first since April 27, 2013.

Gagne didn't play last season as he tried to rest his body to help get over the myriad of injuries (concussion and neck among them) that have plagued him since 2008-09, when he played his last full season in the NHL.

However, the Bruins are looking for an offensive spark and hoping Gagne can provide it. He has 288 goals and 597 points. Gagne, though, will start his Bruins career on his off wing. He will start the game as a right wing on a line with Ryan Spooner and Daniel Paille.

2. The Red Wings are trying to use their speed -- Detroit wants to be one of the faster teams in the League in order to gain more time with the puck and better scoring chances.

The Red Wings speed worked to their advantage against the Bruins last week, when they controlled the play for most of the game by holding onto the puck. They outshot the Bruins 24-17, including 20-9 through two periods, when they built their 2-1 lead that stuck until the final buzzer. They had 46 shot attempts to the Bruins' 29.

"We haven't scored a lot yet and I still think we're going to score," Babcock said, "but I think we're a way, way quicker team [than last season]."

3. Boston continues to search for a first-line right wing -- The Bruins are trying to find someone to play opposite center David Krejci and left wing Milan Lucic on the top line. That line featured Jarome Iginla last season and it stayed together for the entire season.

The prevailing opinion during the offseason was that Loui Eriksson would move up and play with Krejci and Lucic, but it's clear he's better when he plays with fellow Swede Carl Soderberg.

Rookie Seth Griffith played on the right side of the top line Monday in his NHL debut. He was good enough to at least warrant another look. Griffith played more than 16 minutes and had two shots on goal.

"We'll hopefully put that puzzle together to the extent that we really like it at some point, but I think we're still experimenting," Julien told "Sometimes you have to do that as a team. Just because you have training camp doesn't mean you have all the answers. We're trying to get those answers."

4. More than just Nyquist -- The good news in Detroit is forward Gustav Nyquist has two goals in two games, showing so far he'll be capable of building on his success last season, when he scored 28 goals in 57 games.

Nyquist, though, isn't the only young Red Wings forward who has looked good through two games.

Gustav Nyquist
Right Wing - DET
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 2
SOG: 4 | +/-: -1
Luke Glendening, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco and rookie Andrej Nestrasil have been positive possession players and have combined for 12 shots on goal, including six shots and 10 attempts at the net against Boston. Glendening has a goal.

The Red Wings as a whole are plus-25 in shot attempts (97-72) and plus-10 in shots on goal (53-43).

"They've gotta get better. That's all good too," Babcock said. "In the end they're going to have to produce. I think they're going to. I'm not concerned about that."

5. Bruins defense still adjusting without Boychuk -- The Bruins are still trying to figure out their best configurations on defense without Johnny Boychuk, who was traded to the New York Islanders four days before the start of the regular season.

The Bruins have used seven defensemen and several combinations. Matt Bartkowski replaced Kevan Miller on Monday, but he was one of the guilty parties on Briere's game-winner. He played too high in the slot and gave Briere an opening above the crease to collect a rebound off Svedberg for an easy stuff-in.

Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton have been together for three games. Torey Krug was paired with Miller for the first three games before playing with Adam McQuaid on Monday. Dennis Seidenberg played with McQuaid for the first two games, but has since played with Hamilton and Bartkowski.


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