BOSTON (CBS) – NHL Network analyst and former NHL goaltender Kevin Weekes joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Gresh & Zolak show over the phone to talk about the Bruins game Friday night. The Bruins and Red Wings begin their first round series tonight at the TD Garden which can be heard right here on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
This season, the two teams met four times with the Red Wings winning three games, and beating the Presidents’ Trophy winners three times in a regular season is no slouch.
The question Gresh had was, “Will the Red Wings’ regular season success against the Bruins translate to the playoffs?” Weekes was quick to call the Bruins the best all around team in the league before he addressed the question, but he believes the Red Wings have reason to be confident, mainly because of their young guys.
“To speak to the regular season success, they have to be confident. This is the 23rd straight playoff appearance in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the Red Wings and a lot of their young players burst on to the scene in the National Hockey League this year, and when you’re talking about speed and dynamic players naturally you’re talking about [Gustav] Nyquist of the Red Wings, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco all those guys that burned up the American League last year on route to a Calder Cup championship.”
Detroit’s veterans dealt with a wide variety of injuries through the season which required a number of their players from their minor league affiliate, the Grand Rapid Griffins, to pick up the slack. Weekes specifically mentioned Nyquist, Tatar, Sheahan and Jurco as players who have been playing better than expected. The core of young talent Detroit has groomed all season, is playing with a level of confidence needed to compete in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Even with the quick transition for Detroit’s young players and their newfound confidence, Weekes said playing in Boston during the playoffs is intimidating and he could see the young guys getting overwhelmed once the series begins, regardless of their experience of winning in the AHL.
“When the seats are full and they start at the garden and they get out there and Rene Rancourt is going to sing the anthem, his hair is slicked back and the crowd is going nuts at the garden. This is a whole different atmosphere now. This is the National Hockey League Stanley Cup playoffs. So yes, that’s good for those guys [the AHL Championship] it’s something they can lean on, but as I said that’s a real intimidating building being in Boston. The rink plays differently, the dimensions of the rink are different and the Boston Bruins are not only a skilled team but they’re a power skilled team. They’re a team that plays with a lot of structure.”
Listen to the full interview below to hear Kevin Weekes’ Stanley Cup Finals prediction: