BOSTON — The Detroit Red Wings just got a real good look at what they’re trying to become.
The Wings lost 4-2 to the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden, as the B’s ended Detroit’s season with a convincing five-game win in their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series. While the Red Wings were far from 100 percent, they’ll likely use the loss as a teaching tool and a building block. If they can take a thing or two from the Bruins, that might help them even more.
“They play the way we want to play and I think maybe they did a hell of a job,” Wings forward Johan Franzen said after Saturday’s game.
The Bruins have developed into a model franchise over the last five years or so, as general manager Peter Chiarelli and head coach Claude Julien have been able to deploy their strategy and ideology. It’s not unlike what the Red Wings have been doing for the last two decades. The two teams share a mutual respect for each other, and it’s really no surprise that the Wings had nothing but good things to say about the Bruins.
“I think it’s just overall depth,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “They’ve got good players. Some teams have got a real good team and their goalie gets you started, gets the opposition started. This kid (Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask) doesn’t get you started. Not only does he stop the puck, he plays the puck good, so it’s harder to get in on their D. Their back end is left and right-hand shots. When you set up a team, if you can have left and right-hand shots, it makes it way easier to move the puck through the neutral zone. They’re at the right time.”
Adding some depth would certainly benefit the Red Wings moving forward, but so will playoff experience, even in a losing effort. The Wings just got to see up close how a veteran-laden team like the Bruins handles its business and what can happen when a team mixes experience and familiarity with each other.
“They really stick to their structure, they have been doing that for two to three years now and they know it works,” Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “We haven’t really gone through that with this group. We get away from playing playoff hockey and we play against a team like Boston and they take advantage of that.
“I think if we look at them, they roll four lines, they do the same things, they get the puck out, they get the puck in. When the other team gives them an opportunity they take advantage. It is impressive, they are a good team but they know how to win, they have been there.”
As long as they’re healthy, the Red Wings are closer to being a Stanley Cup contender than they are to seeing that playoff streak end any time soon. Their matchup with a team like the Bruins can only help, too.