April 19th, 2014 by

Player of the game: Bruins-Red Wings Game 1

Player of the game: Bruins-Red Wings Game 1

Leading up to Game 1 between the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings, many talked about the speed of Pavel Datsyuk or the physicality of the Bruins, but not too many people focused on the Red Wings net minder Jimmy Howard. Much of the chatter was about the guy in the Black and Gold sweater, Tuukka Rask, who may be in line for his first Vezina Trophy, but on this night Howard was a tad bit better in the 1-0 victory.

Howard was 4-1-0 in five career regular season meetings versus the Bruins with a 2.16 goals against average and continued his success on Friday night.

Although the B’s had their chances and Howard left a few juicy rebounds out front, he was spectacular on the night while his defensemen did the rest. Howard turned away all 25 of the B’s shots which is a tough feat especially versus a team who had no trouble scoring during the regular season between their top three lines. The Black and Gold were simply left with little space to operate and that was the fear coming into this series versus the Red Wings. When the B’s had their chances like a Brad Marchand breakaway, Howard was there to save the day.

There weren’t too many scoring chances on either side that’s how tight knit these two systems are. But, with a little over three minutes to go in the third, the Bruins had one of their best chances of the night where Howard stoned Milan Lucic on a redirection from the stick of Jarome Iginla, which eventually transitioned into Pavel Datsyuk puck-handling through the entire B’s defense for the game-winner.

“We won, it was a good road game,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said after his team’s 1-0 win. “It was tightly played. There wasn’t a ton of chances for either team. I thought their power play was good. Howie (Jimmy Howard) made a real big save and then we came down and scored. It was a good start for us on the road.”

Howard finished the year with a 21-19-11 record and a 2.66 goals against average. It was nothing compared to Rask’s line, but Howard was the guy who shut out the Presidents’ Trophy winning team in their house.

“Neither team was able to get to him that much, so there was big saves to be made and he made them,” Babcock said of his net minder.

Babcock knows his goaltender needs to be dialed in for his team to get wins and he just expects it now.

“He has to be, that’s the bottom line,” Babcock said. “That’s what we pay these guys to do. Both guys are supposed to be high-end goaltenders and they got to give their teams a chance and he’s done it for us in the past in playoff time and we just expect it.”

“Yeah, they were playing well in the third period and then Jimmy (Howard) just stopped everything to help us and one way to use it, one chance,” Datsyuk added about Howard.

Howard wasn’t expected to “steal” any games, but the University of Maine product was very solid and led his team to victory.

“Just trying to establish myself outside the paint,” Howard said. “They are such a good team, they are so deep and they have so many weapons. I just want to give myself the chance to stop as many shots as possible.”

Howard gained confidence as the night went on and it was evident he was comfortable. The Bruins will look to flip that in less than 48 hours and try to make Howard’s Easter Sunday as uncomfortable as possible in Game 2.

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