It’s a showdown of old-school Original Six clubs and new-school Atlantic Division cohabitants on NHL Rivalry Night this week in the Motor City, where the Detroit Red Wings (11-7-7, 29 points) will host the Boston Bruins (16-6-2, 34 points) at Joe Louis Arena.
The game will be broadcast live at 7:30 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday on the NBC Sports Network.
Game Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Television: NBC Sports Network
Team Records: Boston (16-6-2, 34 points), Detroit (11-7-7, 29 points)
Cool Bruins Stat: The Bruins don't have any regular players averaging a point per game, but they have four players who are exactly plus-10 through Monday's games: center David Krejci, left wing Milan Lucic, right wing Jarome Iginla and defenseman Dennis Seidenberg
Cool Red Wings Stat: Though the Red Wings have two of the NHL's top 20 scorers in the form of left winger Henrik Zetterberg (third, 28 points) and center Pavel Datsyuk (T-18th, 23 points), they've actually given up seven more goals (70) than they've scored (63) through 25 games.
|Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit||12|
Milan Lucic, Boston
|Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit||18|
|David Krejci, Boston||14|
|Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit||28|
|Milan Lucic, Boston||18|
|David Krejci, Boston||18|
Even after 581 meetings since 1926, the Bruins and Red Wings are separated by just 14 victories.
Detroit has won 250 games to Boston's 236 wins, and another 95 encounters have ended in ties. The Bruins hold a 10-goal edge in the head-to-head matchups, outscoring the Red Wings, 1,749-1,739.
Boston won the 1941 Stanley Cup with a four-game sweep of Detroit, though the Red Wings returned the favor with a four-game sweep of their own to win the 1943 championship. The Bruins have won three of five series played before the final round, with the most recent meeting in 1957.
The NHL's offseason realignment moved the Red Wings to the Eastern Conference and into the Bruins' routine proximity for the first time since they shared turf in the eight-team East as part of a 16-team league back in 1973-74.
They've split a pair of early-season meetings this year in Boston, with the Bruins winning, 4-1, on Oct. 5 and Detroit replying with a 3-2 triumph nine days later. Six players have scored a goal apiece for Boston, while the Red Wings have gotten a pair of tallies from Henrik Zetterberg.
Their final head-to-head game of the season will come on April 2 in Detroit.
The Bruins are the very definition of red hot, having earned 17 points in their last 10 games (8-1-1) and won two straight heading in to Wednesday. They lead the Atlantic Division by three points over the second-place Tampa Bay Lightning and maintain the same edge in the conference as a whole over the Lightning and the Metropolitan Division's Pittsburgh Penguins.
Boston has been great at home but nearly as good on the road as well, winning six times in nine trips outside of Massachusetts.
The Red Wings are tied for third in the Atlantic with the Toronto Maple Leafs and sit in a tie for fourth in the conference with those very same Maple Leafs. Were the season to end today, however, they'd lose a tiebreaker to Toronto and fall to seventh in the conference seeding as the No. 1 wild-card team.
Oddly, Detroit has been more than respectable on the road (7-3-1) but only mediocre in front of the home folks, winning four times and picking up just 14 of a possible 28 points in 14 games. The Red Wings won their last game, on Sunday at Buffalo, but have just two wins in their last 10 outings and dropped seven in a row—five in shootouts or overtime—between Nov. 4 and 19.
Boston: Torey Krug
The 22-year-old defenseman, in his first full season with the Bruins, scored a gigantic morale goal on Monday night to give Boston a 4-3 overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Bruins were on the verge of a 3-2 victory in regulation before Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby forced the extra time with 0.3 seconds remaining.
The late tally didn't foreshadow doom, however, as Krug explained to the Associated Press, via Sports Illustrated.
"It's tough," he said, "but we've got the guys and leadership where we're not going to get down."
Detroit: Henrik Zetterberg
The team's captain and its leading scorer, Zetterberg was also the mouthpiece advocating calm during the throes of the seven-game drought.
He claimed nerves were beginning to take their toll by the time the streak reached seven, telling mlive.com, according to Ansar Khan: "I think we’re more like robots out there now. We’re not being creative when we get our chances. We have to get back to playing the way we should. Go out and relax a bit and enjoy the moment. I think we’re not enjoying playing out there.”
The streak ended a game later against Carolina.
Boston: Tuukka Rask
The 26-year-old Finn is scheduled for a 21st start in 25 games against the Red Wings, against whom he's stopped 49 of 53 shots in two 2013-14 meetings. He's tied for third in the league in wins with 13 and is third among goalies who've played at least 10 games with a 1.69 goals-against average.
His save percentage of .943 is second among those same double-digit goalies, and he's spent more time on the ice this fall—1,209 minutes, 25 seconds—than all but five goalies.
Detroit: Jonas Gustavsson
The backup to regular starter Jimmy Howard has been reliable in limited duty thus far this season, picking up five wins and a post-regulation loss in six starts—11 of a possible 12 points.
He'll get the call from coach Mike Babcock for the third time in the last four games as Babcock tries to shake Howard from the funk that's seen him lose seven straight starts. Gustavsson allowed two goals to Boston in Detroit's 3-2 win on Oct. 14.
The Bruins have been getting by with a skeleton crew on defense, but they may get reinforcements for the Red Wings game in the form of veterans Adam McQuaid and Dennis Seidenberg, according to a report by Chris Altruda of Yahoo! Sports.
McQuaid has been out for eight straight games with a lower-body injury, the same malady that's kept Seidenberg off the ice for three consecutive games. In their absence, youngster Torey Krug has shined and moved into a four-way tie for the league lead in goals by defensemen with seven.
It's all hands on deck time for the injury-depleted Red Wings, who'll be without goal-scoring leader Pavel Datsyuk (12 goals) after he sustained a possible concussion on Saturday against Ottawa, according to Helene St. James of USA Today.
Datsyuk didn't play the following day in Detroit's 3-1 win at Buffalo, and his status is day-to-day until he is completely symptom free. Also on the shelf for Wednesday is right winger Todd Bertuzzi, who'll miss a third straight game since an upper-body injury last week against Nashville, according to Brian Hedger of NHL.com.
With his two linemates gone, center Henrik Zetterberg will skate between Johan Franzen and Gustav Nyquist, per Hedger's report.
The Red Wings are home and are starting a goalie who's not yet lost in regulation, but nearly every other factor seems to be against them. Coach Mike Babcock's team has struggled at home and will be without two-thirds of its prolific No. 1 line, thanks to the absences of Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi.
On the other side, the Bruins may be getting a couple healthy defensemen back, they have a workhorse goalie in the midst of another solid season and their road record is among the league's best.
It says here that the Jonas Gustavsson backup goalie magic ends here, at least temporarily.
The Pick: Bruins 3, Red Wings 1