Bruins-Red Wings Preview
The Boston Bruins continued their overpowering month-long roll their last time out, a streak that has them leading the race for the Presidents' Trophy.
Considering their utter dominance on the road in March, however, they may not need home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.
Looking for a 10th straight road victory and 16th win in 17 games overall Wednesday night, the Bruins take on a Detroit Red Wings team that's won two in a row and beat Boston in the most recent two meetings.
Boston (52-17-6) set a club record for consecutive road wins by defeating Philadelphia 4-3 in a shootout Sunday, with Patrice Bergeron scoring the go-ahead goal in the second period and also tallying in the tiebreaker. The Bruins hadn't allowed three goals in the previous 11 games but got a strong effort from Tuukka Rask, who made a career-high 49 saves and denied four of five shootout attempts.
Boston's last regulation loss was March 1, which immediately preceded its 15-0-1 surge.
''That's pretty impressive,'' said coach Claude Julien, whose team also won at Washington the previous day to clinch the Atlantic Division. ''They've stayed focused, they've stayed humble, they've stayed determined. I'm very proud of the way we've handled this month.''
Along with shutdown defensive play, a steady approach has been the key for Boston. The Bruins have remained unbeatable through regulation even though six of their last eight games have come in back-to-backs.
Another set looms, as they'll face Toronto on Thursday to close out a four-game road trip.
''Just being smart, playing the system and not forcing plays,'' said Bergeron, who has scored eight times during a seven-game goal streak. ''Every time we take what's there, we have success.''
Boston has jumped past St. Louis in the battle for the top record in the league and home ice throughout the postseason, but the Bruins haven't looked like they'll need it, going 13-0-3 in their last 16 away games.
They haven't had nearly that much success against Detroit in 2013-14, taking the first meeting 4-1 at home Oct. 5 but losing 3-2 there Oct. 14 and 6-1 at Joe Louis Arena on Nov. 27 - Boston's most lopsided defeat of the season.
Rask struggled in that contest, allowing all the goals on 28 shots, while the Bruins managed a season low-tying 17 shots.
The Red Wings (35-26-14) certainly won't lack motivation for Wednesday, as they've recorded two well-timed wins in a row after a three-game losing streak. Detroit is locked in a tight battle with several teams for an Eastern Conference wild-card spot.
David Legwand had a goal and an assist as the Red Wings held off Tampa Bay 3-2 on Monday. They're trying to stretch their playoff streak to 23 seasons, the longest such active streak in North American professional sports.
''We got to find to find a way to win some games here to get in. We've got Washington breathing down our necks and Columbus is right with us here, and Toronto's in the mix too,'' said center Gustav Nyquist, who extended his point streak to nine games with his 27th goal. ''... Everyone's going to be playing for their playoff lives here. It's a good thing we have it in our own hands at least.''
The Red Wings have won six of the last seven meetings with Boston and have allowed three total goals while taking three straight matchups at home.
Nyquist has 11 goals and two assists during his nine-game run. He recorded a goal and an assist Nov. 27.