For one night at least, the high-powered Boston Bruins won’t be the favorite tonight, as the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings visit the TD Banknorth Garden for a battle of two teams tied for the second-most standings points (34) in the NHL.
The Wings snapped a two-game losing streak with a home win over Columbus Friday night, but before that they’d won five in a row. And the Bruins, of course, have been even hotter, with wins in five of their last six outings, including Friday’s blowout of the New York Islanders. The Bruins’ surge toward the top of the NHL standings have made them a team everyone wants to knocks off, but for this one evening they’ll be the ones trying to prove their mettle against a team that has some hardware.
Player to watch: Despite the team’s outstanding start to the 2008-09 campaign, some Bruins backers still wish the club had managed to lure Marian Hossa to the Hub last summer when the star winger was an unrestricted free agent. The Bruins had vigorously pursued Hossa leading up to last season’s trade deadline before the Atlanta Thrashers finally decided to ship Hossa to Pittsburgh. After coming up short in his bid for a Stanley Cup with the Penguins (at the hands of the Wings), Hossa signed a one-year deal with Detroit. So far, the deal has been a win-win for both the player and the club, as he’s posted 13-13-26 totals in 22 games (with a plus-8 rating) and the Wings’ super chemistry has not been hindered by adding another mega-talent to the line-up. Hossa will get the chance to cash in as a free agent again next summer. The Bruins, meanwhile, will try to continue to prove that not altering their roster too much to make room for Hossa was the right decision.
What they’re writing: George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press reports of Chris Osgood’s up-and-down night against Columbus. Sipple’s notebook has former Bruins defenseman Brad Stuart, now with the Wings, reacting to skating in his 600th career game.
Quotable: The Bruins hope winger Michael Ryder is out of his scoring slump after his two-goal performance against the Islanders Friday. Ryder knows the Bruins have a stiff test with the Wings in town.
“It is Detroit. They are one of the top teams in the NHL. It is never easy to play against those guys. We have to limit their speed because they are a really good skating team and make sure we limit the turnovers.”