BOSTON (CBS) — Friday night’s showdown between the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings could not have been a tighter game. The two teams matched each other shot for shot, hit for hit and save for save. The only area where the Bruins couldn’t match the Wings was in the goals department, and that’s only because the Bruins don’t have any wizards on the roster.
Sure, David Krejci is at times a bit of a wizard with the puck, as he’s shown an ability to possess the puck along the boards for stretches of time that few other humans can match. But still, there’s nobody else quite like Pavel Datsyuk.
Datsyuk, a 35-year-old Russian who half-jokingly bristled after being called a veteran on Friday night, has done some flat-out impossible things on the ice in his career, such as weaving through all five Nashville Predators and beating the goalie, such as deking Logan Couture so badly that the Sharks forward nearly swallowed his own jock before falling to the ice, such as scoring some of the most dazzling shootout goals the NHL has ever seen, and so on.
He’s just a wizard. That’s all there is to it.
So when Datsyuk reached behind his body to corral a pass from Johan Franzen before casually cutting across the high slot (with Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton in his face and Patrice Bergeron harassing him from behind) and firing a wrister past Tuukka Rask, it was not the most surprising thing to see play out on the TD Garden ice.
In case you’re keeping track, that’s a single man beating a Norris Trophy winner (perhaps soon-to-be two-time winner), a Selke Trophy winner (ditto) and the front-runner to win this year’s Vezina Trophy, all in the matter of a few seconds.
Of course, that doesn’t make the Bruins feel much better, but at least it’s an explanation for how the only goal of Game 1 was scored.
As for the rest of it, here are all the leftover thoughts from the Bruins’ 1-0 loss in Game 1 against Detroit.
–That aforementioned reaching back to corral a pass by Datsyuk? It looked like this, and it came without missing a step.
It left Brad Marchand standing in the neutral zone wondering what just happened. Seconds later, the Red Wings led 1-0. Just a great individual effort.
–Tuukka Rask was, for much of the night, the Bruins’ best player. And he had to be early, as the first shot he faced was a doozy.
It came 90 seconds into the game, and it was not an easy one, as Tomas Tatar skated into the Boston zone 1-on-1 with Andrej Meszaros and fired a strong snap shot on net. Rask made the toe save.
It, of course, was not Rask’s best toe save of the night. That one came on a doorstep rebound bid by Darren Helm, and Tuukka’s acrobatics nearly killed Doc Emrick’s voice.
I really thought that might have been it for Doc’s vocal chords. I’m glad they survived.
–We all knew heading into the game that the Bruins had some health issues, but I don’t think anybody expected to see four regulars out of the lineup. The Red Wings are obviously banged up as well, and we saw career playoff debuts for Corey Potter, Justin Florek and Reilly Smith for Boston and Riley Sheahan, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco and Luke Glendening for Detroit. That’s a pretty big list for two teams that are perennially in the postseason.
–Friendly reminder that Corey Potter was deemed in early March to be not good enough for the Edmonton Oilers. The Edmonton Oilers finished in last place in the Western Conference, owners of the third-worst record in the entire NHL. Yet Potter skated 17 minutes in Game 1, including 97 seconds of short-handed time. He handled himself well, so good for him, but that’s a situation that’s not exactly ideal for the Boston Bruins as they try to win a Stanley Cup here.
–Milan Lucic, are you joking with that nonsense?
A few weeks ago, Lucic used his stick to tap Alexei Emelin in the groin, later saying it was an accident but also calling Emelin “a chicken.” That incident passed without too much fanfare, but Lucic was at it again in Game 1.
This offense was much more egregious, as he put his stick between Danny DeKeyser’s leg and lifted it up, sending the Detroit D-man to the ice in a heapload of pain. You can watch it by clicking here, and make sure to say “Oh … boy” along with the commentators.
Neither referee on the ice noticed it, but the dozens of high-definition cameras around the rink surely did. I’m not sure what the proper punishment is for something like that, but if the Red Wings break character and nail Lucic with some sort of cheap shot in the coming days, there’s really no room for anyone from Boston to complain about it.
–Physics in motion makes pretty good sense. Physics in still photograph looks crazy:
–Detroit’s best scoring opportunity of the night wasn’t even the play which resulted in a goal. The Wings’ best chance to beat Rask came midway through the second period. First, Datsyuk fired a point-blank one timer from Rask’s right but missed the net. Seconds later, Justin Abdelkader sent a pass across the front of the crease to Johan Franzen, but Franzen couldn’t handle the puck.
The Bruins were pretty fortunate to have survived that sequence.
–The officiating was pretty good, but I still don’t know how Jurco got away with using his free hand to tackle David Krejci in the corner.
–As far as the coulda/shoulda/woulda game goes, the Bruins must have some heartache to see the replay of Lucic’s redirect which nearly gave Boston the 1-0 lead in the third period.
Jarome Iginla floated a pass to Lucic in front of the net. Lucic got a piece of the puck and redirected the puck to Howard’s glove side. The goalie had zero time to react but the puck caught enough of his glove to slow it down before scooting just wide of the net.
Howard admitted that luck was on his side in that moment.
“It was a fortunate save. It was pretty lucky,” Howard said. “[Lucic] stuck his stick out and got a lot on it and it just sort of spun my glove and I was just able to get enough on it. I was pretty lucky.”
He was lucky, the Bruins were not, and just 30 seconds after that save, the Red Wings led 1-0. That’s often the way things go in the postseason. It’s not always fair, but if the Bruins want a different outcome in Game 2, they’re going to have to simply do more to make their own luck.
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