, Salem, MA


April 18, 2014

Phil Stacey column: Bruins blemishes, while fixable, showed in Game 1 setback


Take the sequence that led to Datsyuk’s goal. Just seconds before, Boston had one of its best chances of the night when a redirected shot out from by winger Milan Lucic inadvertently hit Howard’s blocker as he was going the opposite way across the crease. Detroit gets the rebound, transititions the puck up ice to Datsyuk, and … well, even though he recently came back from injury and is still working his way back to maximum performance, they don’t call him the Magic Man for nothing.

The Bruins will focus on trying to take the puck in deep Sunday (and, presumably, for the rest of the series), hold on to the puck more often and try to get all three forwards coming out of the zone at the same speed, building momentum as they streak up ice. It’s going to be important for them to establish neutral zone dominance, attack the Wings’ younger defensive corps and put heavy pressure on Howard.

They’re also going to have to do a better job in the faceoff circle (winning just 45 percent of their draws last night) and preventing the No. 8 seed from having prolonged looks at Rask, as was the case in the second period when the top line of Lucic-Krejci-Jarome Iginla had trouble clearing the puck out.

“I think we played a good defensive game,” rookie winger Justin Florek, having played in his first NHL playoff game, said. “We’ve got to build on that and do a little more work in the offensive zone.”

Detroit is not as skilled as Boston, but it does have an elite player in Datsyuk, arguably the best coach on the planet in Mike Babcock and a fleet of young, speedy forwards who play a tight checking system as well as use their jets to fly up the wings and wreak havoc in the offensive end.

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