One of the things that make the NHL playoffs so special is that seeding and home ice doesn’t really mean all that much. On Friday at TD Garden, the top seeded Bruins fell, 1-0, to the No. 8 Red Wings in Game 1 of the first round series.
There is a reason that many feared the Red Wings, who took the regular season series with the Bruins, 3-1, and showed on Friday that they aren’t intimidated in the least bit by the B’s. Game 2 is Easter Sunday (3 p.m., NBC) and Boston needs to find its game in a hurry to avoid an 0-2 hole similar to what Tampa Bay find itself in going to Montreal.
“There are no secrets here, it was really tight defense,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “Everyone (on our team) has to find a way to create more and work a little harder to gain space. It’s going to be a long series and tonight was an indication of that.”
It’s not an excuse for their mostly lethargic play but let the record show that Boston had to adjust its lineups at the last minute with regulars Chris Kelly (strained back), Daniel Paille (upper body), Kevan Miller (flu) and Matt Bartkowski (flu) all out. Granted, this game wasn’t decided by the likes of Justin Florek, Jordan Caron, Andrej Meszaros and Corey Potter but they certainly aren’t the same players that they were replacing. For whatever reason, the Bruins never really seemed to get into a rhythm until early in the third period when they drew their first power play. Boston generated some good pressure on it but Jimmy Howard (25 saves; third career playoff shutout) made a spectacular stop on Carl Soderberg from in close.
Tuukka Rask (23 saves) deserved better since he kept the B’s in it while they found their skating legs and made an outstanding save on Darren Helm early in the third. Pavel Datsyuk is a special player - one of the best in the world - and he showed it with the move that he made prior to beating Rask with a snap shot at 16:59 of the third period. At that point, Boston had little time left to rally and now its has to search for answers in terms of generating more offense.
“We just have to battle back and get the next one,” noted Rask. “It looked like one goal would be enough and today it was for them. We had some good looks, we just missed the net (6 times).”
What they'll be saying: Anyone who expected the Bruins to win this series in four or five games should cut back on their black and gold Kool-Aid. Boston couldn’t have a much tougher first round opponent than the Red Wings as they are simply a bad matchup for the B’s.
For what it’s worth, the Bruins are 18-28 all-time in Game 2s when they trail a best-of-seven series 1-0 and they have an all-time series mark of 13-33 when they trail 1-0. Conversely, Detroit is 36-16 in Game 2s when they lead 1-0 and they have an all-time series mark of 38-14 when they are up 1-0.
Potter, Florek and Reilly Smith were playing their first career NHL playoff games for Boston while Riley Sheahan, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco and Luke Glendening played in their first for Detroit.
There were only three combined power plays (two for Detroit, one for Boston). The Bruins need to be more aggressive and go to the net to draw more penalties.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter:@RichSlate