DETROIT – Playing physical in the Stanley Cup playoffs is one thing, but playing physical and smart is the approach the Red Wings need to focus on as their best-of-seven series against the Boston Bruins shifts to Joe Louis Arena for Game 3 on Tuesday night.
The Bruins physically dominated Game 2 with their after-the-whistle scrums, frustrating the faster Red Wings to the point of abandoning their style, which helped win Game 1.
“That’s their game, right? So we just have to ignore it,” said Tomas Tatar, who had one of the Red Wings’ four roughing penalties in Sunday’s 4-1 loss at TD Garden. “It’s part of the game, I know you sometimes you get in but most of the time you should just walk away and play within the whistle.”
While turning the other cheek isn’t always easy, coach Mike Babcock will continue to hammer home the message of sticking with the game plan and avoiding the unnecessary post-whistle shenanigans.
“You get in a series, one team adjusts, the other team adjusts, you just keep going. I just think for our team to be effective, we have to do what we do,” Babcock said. “If we want to have a scrum after every whistle and get into a cross-checking match after every whistle -- I assume they’re not letting you run people on icings anymore, they probably got that figured out after yesterday. Little things like that I assume those things will be cleaned up.”
But for the Bruins, who had 46 fighting majors – second most in the league during the regular season – intimidating tactics is in their hockey DNA and something they feel will help them win the first-round series against Detroit.
“I think it’s pretty clear, our team has to be physically engage, but again, within the rules,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “When we’re not we’re in the penalty box. We have to find a way to stay out of the box a little bit more. To me, we’re in the box for too many penalties and down the road that can hurt you. So playing within the rules and being physical is part of our strength, so we have to be that team. The after-whistle scrums is certainly not pre-planned, it’s just two teams that are intense and ready to battle for their space and it’s as easy as that.”
One thing Babcock doesn’t want to see is one of his players tangling with 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara, like Brendan Smith nearly did toward the end of the first period Sunday. Nothing good can come from a mismatch like that, Babcock said.
“So you walk into the bar and there’s this beautiful young gal standing next to this 6-foot-5 monster who you know makes his living fighting for a living and you’re the best pool player in the bar,” Babcock said. “Are you going to play pool or are you going to fight? Figure it out. It seems simple to me. I don’t know if that’s an analogy that works for you or not.”
Besides staying away from the extracurriculars, the Red Wings must get the offense in gear. They’ve managed just one goal in each of the first two games, and their power play – which is 0-for-6 against the Bruins – has to find the back of the net if they’re to gain any traction in this series. Meanwhile, Boston’s power play is 2-for-5 in the series.
“Specialty teams got to be better, our penalty kill and our power play got to be better, and 5-on-5 there’s not going to be much between the two teams,” Wings forward Justin Abdelkader said. “Both teams play with really good structure. So specialty teams got to be good this time of year, it’s critical so we’ll look to correct a few things there and shore up something 5-on-5 to make sure we’re doing everything right.”
MONDAY SKATE: The Red Wings did not practice at JLA Monday, instead making it an optional. Nine players, mostly those recovering from injuries, skated, including Jonathan Ericsson and Henrik Zetterberg.
Others that skated Monday were Daniel Cleary (knee), Mikael Samuelsson (Shoulder), Jonas Gustavsson, Todd Bertuzzi, Joakim Andersson, Brian Lashoff and Tomas Jurco. Both Lashoff and Jurco played in the two games in Boston.
ERICSSON UPDATE: The Red Wings defenseman hopes to have the last three pins removed from his left middle finger this week. While he has skated some in the past week Ericsson still can’t fully grip the stick with is left hand.
“I can grab it with my one finger and thumb so I can have it in my hand but I can’t grab the stick with the finger that I hurt,” Ericsson said.
The Red Wings should have a better idea of when Ericsson may return to the lineup when he sees the hand surgeon, hopefully later in the week.
“I haven’t found out a time yet but we’ll get new X-rays and see how the bones are aligned and see about the tendon and all of that,” Ericsson said. “I don’t know if he can tell anything but I got to see what he sees before I can think about anything else.”
In all likelihood, Ericsson won’t be ready for a few more weeks.
NOTES: The Red Wings have won their last four home games against the Bruins, including a pair of victories this season. The last time the Bruins left Detroit with a win, Marco Sturm had two goals to pace a 6-3 victory over the Red Wings on March 11, 2007