It’s one thing to go out and slaughter the lowly New York Islanders in the traditional day-after-Thanksgiving game at TD Banknorth Garden. But to thoroughly outplay the defending Stanley Cup champions the very next night, well that’s a whole other accomplishment.
In another one of those early season flashes that let you know the 2008-09 Boston Bruins were for real, Boston rode the hot play of the newly formed like of Blake Wheeler, David Krejci and Michael Ryder to an impressive, 4-1, victory over Detroit Nov. 29 — a victory that ranks No. 3 on my list of the Bruins’ top 10 wins of the regular season.
Wheeler, Krejci and Ryder became a trio against the Isles and combined for six points in a 7-2 rout of the team that would go on to finish with the worst record in the NHL. Wheeler made sure the hot play continued against the Wings with a goal on the end of a 2-on-1 at 12:00 of the first period to grab the early lead for Boston. Phil Kessel then did his best to make sure no one forgot his line was still the Bruins’ top line, as he skated around the Detroit zone with the puck and then fired a shot from the top of the right circle past Ty Conklin for a 2-0 lead.
At 8:01 of the second period, the Bruins put a stranglehold on the game when Patrice Bergeron stole the puck and set up Chuck Kobasew for the third goal of the night and the last Conklin would be allowed to surrender. The Wings replaced him with Chris Osgood. Late in the session, Jiri Hudler tried to give the Wings momentum by putting a puck past Manny Fernandez. But 6:51 into the third, Krejci made sure there would be no Detroit comeback with goal from right in front off a puck that deflected off a Wings player.
Fernandez finished with 29 saves, and really the only negative to emerge from the game was the injury defenseman Aaron Ward suffered after hitting Derek Meech in the first period in the neutral zone. Ward would miss a chunk of time with a charley horse after that.
Even without Ward for all but 3:43 of the game, the Bruins kept the powerhouse Wings at bay. And again the Bruins had sent notice to the NHL that they were ready to ascend to the top of the league.