Game Day Preview: Bruins vs. Red Wings
The Bruins are without multiple star players for — at the very least — a few weeks…stop us if you’ve heard that one before.
This time it’s Patrice Bergeron and Charlie McAvoy, two of the three players this 2017-18 team has built its defensive identity around. At least Bruce Cassidy has the experience from the early season injury bug and some recently acquired depth to help him navigate now. Taking things one day at a time pushed the ailing Bruins through before, and that’ll be key again.
Looking at the rest of the season through that lens, Tuesday’s opponent is one of the few in the league Bergeron and McAvoy might not be absolutely crucial in taking down. The Red Wings are hungry coming off three straight losses, but the Atlantic Division’s fifth-place team has been seriously lacking offensive firepower. They’ve scored the fourth-fewest goals in the league at 170, and have been trying to play with the lines to no avail.
It’s not like this is one of those weird matchups like the Ducks that the Bruins just seem to lose — they haven’t lost to the Red Wings in regulation in more than two years. Boston has proved capable of just focusing on the task at hand throughout the season, and that focus is a huge reason it’s a legit Cup contender — if it can just do that tonight, a season sweep of Detroit is possible.
Are you in need of affordable parking for Tuesday’s Bruins-Red Wings tilt? Then head over Constitution Wharf (1 Constitution Rd.) — a short walk to TD Garden — and avoid the traffic and construction on Causeway St. Mention Bruins Daily at the entrance for a prepaid rate of $12!
Gametime: 7 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 40-15-8 (88 points), Red Wings 26-29-10 (62 points)
Location: TD Garden
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Riley Nash-David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk-David Krejci-Rick Nash
Danton Heinen-David Backes-Brian Gionta
Tim Schaller-Sean Kuraly-Tommy Wingels
Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug-Nick Holden
Kevan Miller-Matt Grzelcyk
Red Wings projected lines
Gustav Nyquist-Henrik Zetterberg-Anthony Mantha
Tyler Bertuzzi-Dylan Larkin-Andreas Athanasiou
Justin Abdelkader-Frans Nielsen-Darren Helm
Martin Frk-Luke Glendening-Luke Witkowski
Niklas Kronwall-Trevor Daley
Xavier Ouellet-Mike Green
Danny DeKeyser-Nick Jensen
Bruins-Red Wings storylines
– Don Sweeney’s trade deadline acquisitions were largely for insurance and depth purposes. There seems to be a complete mutual understanding of this in the locker room — Brian Gionta says he’s happy to help however he can, Tommy Wingels says he’s just happy to be here, and that’s the general and sincere sentiment. Maybe this mindset is keeping them hungry to perform on every shift, but whatever it is, this arrangement is working out better than many imagined so far. The Bruins are 3-0 since the trade deadline and each new player has recorded at least one point. Nick Holden, Gionta and Wingels have at least two. Save for Rick Nash, no one’s even expecting them to rack up points — their jobs are damage control when the stars are out. They’ve been proving themselves adequate while Bergeron has been out, now McAvoy’s absence brings another test. If you don’t hear much about Holden’s performance, consider his test passed.
– There’s no getting around it: The Bruins aren’t the same team without their 20-year-old stud in the lineup. That said, this is one of the games where McAvoy’s absence will hurt least. Detroit has scored the fourth-fewest goals in the league with 170 on the season — Montreal, Buffalo and Arizona are the only teams with fewer. For reference, Boston’s eighth with 206 and first-place Tampa Bay has 235. The Bruins defense probably won’t have to work miracles here; as long as Brandon Carlo can keep up with Zdeno Chara (as he’s proved capable), the Red Wings should be fairly easy to contain.
“You’re matched up against certain lines when you’re with the big man [Chara]…I look forward to challenging myself,” Carlo said after Monday’s practice. “Ultimately, I feel like it will help me to continue to get better overall.”
– In case you missed it, McAvoy is out at least four weeks with a sprained MCL, and Tuukka Rask has a far less serious “nagging lower-body injury.” Seems very bleak, but at least the Bruins have a three-point lead and five games in hand over the Maple Leafs for home ice.