The Boston Bruins (35-11-12, 82 points) are one of the best teams in the NHL, but they can’t seem to figure one of the worst in the Detroit Red Wings (14-41-4, 32 points). The Red Wings have won each of the first two meetings, both coming in Michigan. That includes last Sunday’s 3-1 victory.
Puck drop is at 1:00 pm on NESN, NHL Network, Sportsnet and 98.5 The Sports Hub.
A Focus Game
The Bruins weren’t themselves when they took on the Red Wings last Sunday in Detroit. The Bruins had chances, but weren’t focused and locked in like usual. The Red Wings, who haven’t done a lot of winning this season, took advantage of that.
The standings don’t matter this afternoon. For the Bruins, this game against the Red Wings is all about getting back to basics. It is all about focusing in, doing their job and collecting two points.
“Tomorrow’s more about a focus game,” Bruce Cassidy said Friday after practice. “Don’t be disrespectful. Every team is good in this league and every team can beat you any night even when you do show up and play. It wasn’t like the other night we were a horrible hockey team. They were one goal better; they got the empty-netter, but they were a little better on special teams.
For the Bruins, that loss last Sunday was a stark reminder that the record does not matter in this league. Anyone can win on any given day. It’s a very slim margin between winning and losing in the NHL.
“That’s how slim the margin is,” Cassidy continued. “I do believe if we play to our ability, we will come out with two points. I believe that every night no matter who we play. We have to have a little bit more of that mindset going in and not start thinking ahead.”
Lauzon Re-Signs, Returns?
Jeremy Lauzon got some good news on Friday. The defenseman inked a new two-year contract with the club that will pay him an annual average value of $850,000. The deal will go into effect on July 1st and will run through the 2021-22 NHL season.
Lauzon, who has played just 23 career NHL games, made his season debut against the New Jersey Devils on New Year’s Eve.
That news is great. The news Lauzon is hoping to get today could be great too. After serving a two-game suspension for a hit to the head of Arizona’s Derek Stepan, Lauzon could return to the lineup against the Red Wings.
His two-game suspension was a warning from the Department of Player Safety, but don’t expect him to change the way he plays.
“No, I’m a physical player,” said Lauzon when asked if he would change on Friday. “That’s why I’m here. I’m just going to continue playing my game. That’s my goal and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Lauzon will have to keep doing that if he hopes to remain in the lineup for the Bruins. Connor Clifton will not play today, but he is close to a return. The pressure is on the young defenseman to play well. Don’t tell him that though.
“I don’t think about that,” Lauzon admitted. “Just try to concentrate on myself and I don’t think sitting two games is gonna bother me. I think it showed after the [All-Star] break, I had four days off when I came back and I felt really good. No, if I’m in tomorrow I’m gonna be ready.”
Clifton, as mentioned, will not play today. He’s getting closer to a return, however.
“No, he’s still working his way through it,” Cassidy said of Clifton on Friday. “Lauzon’s back from his suspension so we’ll make a decision there. Forward group will stay the same, everyone’s healthy; Tuukka [Rask] will start and Jaro Sunday.”
Speaking of Halak, it is good news to see him get a game this weekend. Halak was a surprise scratch on Sunday against the Red Wings and has not played since. He returns tomorrow against the New York Rangers on Hockey Day in America.
“He’s told me he’s feeling much better,” said Cassidy of Halak.
“I guess until he gets back in the net we won’t know for sure. But he’s been through every practice, hasn’t missed a drill, did a goalie practice with [goalie coach] Bob [Essensa] yesterday. He feels good. Hopefully it’s a one off.”
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Karson Kuhlman
Anders Bjork – Charlie Coyle – Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – Jeremy Lauzon
Bruins lines are subject to change. Rask gets the start, per Cassidy, while John Moore remains scratched on defense. Connor Clifton is close, but remains out injured. Anton Blidh and Par Lindholm are scratched up front for today’s matchup. Lines are based off of practice at Warrior Ice Arena on Friday.
Detroit Red Wings Lines
Darren Helm – Dylan Larkin – Anthony Mantha
Tyler Bertuzzi – Andreas Athanasiou – Luke Glendening
Robby Fabbri – Valtteri Filppula – Frans Nielsen
Justin Abdelkader – Christoffer Ehn – Adam Erne
Filip Hronek – Mike Green
Patrik Nemeth – Gustav Lindstrom
Trevor Daley – Alex Biega
Red Wings lines are subject to change. Helm, Hronek and Green all missed practice on Friday in Boston, but coach Jeff Blashill expects all three to be okay and play today. Brendan Perlini (face) skated but isn’t expected to play this afternoon. There is no timetable for his return, per the club.