The Boston Bruins have been fighting to secure a wild-card playoff berth over the last two months, but they could climb into a postseason spot in the Atlantic Division with a win Thursday night against the Detroit Red Wings.
The slumping Red Wings, who’ve won just three of their last 10 games, host the Bruins at Joe Louis Arena for the finale of the season series. If the Bruins win, they will tie the Red Wings with 93 points and 37 regulation and overtime wins (ROW), which is the first tiebreaker. It should be noted Detroit also has a game in hand on Boston.
The Bruins also are trying to hold off the Ottawa Senators for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Senators have a game in hand, but they trail the B’s by three points and face a difficult matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.
The Bruins have taken points from seven of their last 10 games, including an active three-game win streak. Will they extend it to four games Thursday? Here’s a preview of Bruins-Red Wings.
TV, Radio Information: NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub
Season Series: Boston 3-0-1
Record: Boston (39-25-13, fourth in Atlantic), Detroit (40-23-13, third in Atlantic)
Bruins Player To Watch: B’s rookie winger David Pastrnak earned two assists in Tuesday’s win and finished March with 13 points, the second-most on the team. He’s enjoying a fantastic rookie season with 27 points in 41 games and is motivated to show all of the teams that passed on him in the 2014 draft they made a mistake.
“I was talking earlier in the day (Tuesday), when the draft came, you know, in the summer I went (No.) 25 to become a Bruin, so that means 24 teams passed on me, you know, and I think that?s something that pushed me pretty much to work hard,” Pastrnak said Tuesday. “Once I will get to the NHL, just show the other teams they did wrong, and I?m happy the Bruins trusted in myself and I?m trying to give it to them back.”
Red Wings Player To Watch: Jimmy Howard’s recent struggles have given Petr Mrazek an opportunity to take the No. 1 goalie job in Detroit. Mrazek will start against the Bruins and is coming off a remarkable performance Tuesday night when he allowed just one goal on 34 shots in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Senators. The 22-year-old netminder is 15-7-2 with a .915 save percentage and a 2.47 goals against average this campaign.
Key Stat For Bruins: Boston has improved defensively over the last four games, with an average of just two goals against during the span. The Bruins are doing a better job protecting the slot, the defensemen are evading the oncoming forecheck with quick passes out of their own zone and Tuukka Rask has played well in net.
“It?s been great for the past four or five games or so,” Rask said Tuesday. “You?re going to give up shots, but what kind of shots you give up is the question. Cut down those quality chances and second chances. That?s what?s been helping us get the goal chances down. Honestly, it?s a team sport and we?ve come to realize that we have to play as a five or six-men unit out there in order to be successful.”
Key Stat For Red Wings: Detroit has the second-best power play in the league with a 24 percent success rate, but the unit is just 1-for-14 in the last four games. That said, the Red Wings have scored with the man advantage in each of their four previous games versus the Bruins this season.
READ: Analyzing Pastrnak’s rookie season so far>>
Thumbnail photo via James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports Images