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Lack of experience, patience costs Wings

Bruins blitz Red Wings, 4-2, take playoff series in five games

Saturday, 04.26.2014 / 8:09 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor |
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Lack of experience, patience costs Wings

Johan Franzen had two assists and 14 shots in the five-game series against the Bruins and goalie Tuukka Rask, who finished with a .961 save percentage. (Photo by Getty Images)

BOSTON – In the end, it was the Boston Bruins’ experience and patience that did in the Red Wings in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic also had something to do with eliminating Detroit in five games. Lucic had a goal and an assist, Chara added a power-play goal and Rask turned aside 31 shots in lifting the Bruins over the Red Wings, 4-2, in front of a sold-out TD Garden Saturday afternoon

“They really stick to their structure,” Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “They’ve been doing it for 2-3 years now and they know it works. We haven’t really gone through that with this group. We get away from playing playoff hockey and when you play against a team like Boston they take advantage of that.”

As was the case throughout the series, Detroit’s offense struggled against the stingy Bruins and Rask, their Vezina Trophy nominated goalie, who allowed just six goals on 152 shots in the five games. It’s the fewest goals scored in a five-game playoff series in franchise history. The previous low was eight – which was done twice – against Colorado in the 2000 Western Conference semifinals and against Chicago in the 1944 Stanley Cup semfinals.

The Red Wings reached the playoffs for the 23rd consecutive time on the strength of their younger players, who did a noble job down the stretch in the absence of star players like Pavel Datsyuk and Zetterberg, who were recovering from injuries.

“We weren’t a tough out at all,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We were good in Game 1 and I thought we were good for a period and half in Game 4. I thought we were pretty good in here in Game 2 in the second period. We got the game back to 2-1 and made a mistake. But to find out how good they are you’ve got to push them. You have to push them and push them. You go back and forth and win games and you get to around 6 and 7. We never did that. You never really know how good a team is until you push them.”

For the third time in the series the Bruins grabbed an early lead, capitalizing on the game’s first power-play chance. Justin Abdelkader was called for hooking Lucic in the neutral zone at 2:34, and just 53 seconds later Loui Eriksson slapped a rebound past the out-stretched arm of Jonas Gustavsson as the Red Wings’ backup goalie tried to get back into position.

Gustavsson, who was playing in his second straight game for Jimmy Howard, who was out ill, stopped 29 of 32 shots.

The Red Wings were fortunate to escape down one after the first period. But as soon as Detroit pulled even, the Bruins punched back, first with Chara’s power-play goal with four seconds left in the second. Boston built a 3-1 lead early in the third on Lucic’s third goal of the series.

"It's a tough goal but it's like all the other goals, you try to shake it off and move on,” Gustavsson said. “If you're down a goal going into the third period on the road, you still have a pretty good chance to come back and win the game. It's tough but that's something you gotta be able to go through and handle to go far in the playoffs.”

Boston’s power play crippled the Red Wings all series, but Saturday, it was toxic, going 2-for-6. The Bruins’ power play produced a playoff-leading 6-of-16 in the five games against Detroit.

Johan Franzen was the target of much criticism for not producing in the series. But the Mule showed some snarl in the second period, leading to the Wings’ first goal as well as another golden chance.

“They’re really good defensively,” Franzen said. “They play the way we want to play. They did a hell of a job. I think they maybe had a little bit more patience than us. Their special teams definitely outplayed ours in this series, both power play and penalty kill; all the credit to them. They’ve been successful for many years here in the playoffs and they’re a tough team to get to the net against, especially with the lead.”

Still, with Lucic serving a minor penalty for high-sticking Brendan Smith, the Wings’ power play managed to set up on the offensive zone, which wasn’t always the case in this series. Franzen set up in front of the Bruins’ crease and screened Rask, who didn’t see Datsyuk drop down to the goal line and fire a rebound into the open net, tying the game at 1-1 at 14:41 of the second period.

The Wings had an ideal chance earlier to tie the score in the period, but Rask, as he did all series long, came up big when the Bruins’ defense faltered, which wasn’t often. Franzen scooped up a turnover at Boston’s blueline and circled back into the zone with linemate Daniel Alfredsson on a 2-on-1 chance. Franzen’s pass found Alfredsson at the doorstep but Rask was there to thwart the play.

Detroit’s power play was more productive in Game 5, sending nine shots at Rask – that’s the most shots than any of the previous four games for the Wings’ special team. But it wasn’t enough against a Bruins’ penalty kill that was 18-for-20.

“Their power play seemed to move the puck around with great confidence,” Alfredsson said. “They did a great job finding openings, they changed it up well. Once we adjusted, they changed again. I thought our power play came on the last few games and helped us out a little bit. That’s always a big (factor) when goals are tough to come by five on five.”

The Red Wings made things interesting late, trimming their deficit to 3-2 at 16:08 of the final period, when Zetterberg fired home a rebound from along the goal line that beat Rask under his right arm.

But Iginla closed out the scoring with an empty-netter at 19:44.

“It’s no fun. You want to go deep in the playoffs,” Zetterberg said. “Obviously, right now it’s real tough. Obviously, we have to do something different to go deeper. Probably gonna have to sit down and see what we did right and what we did wrong, and change the bad things for next year.”




1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54


H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38 is the official Web site of the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit Red Wings and are trademarks of the Detroit Red Wings. NHL, the NHL Shield and the word mark NHL Winter Classic are registered trademarks and Original Six is a trademark of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Detroit Red Wings and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.
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