Red Wings-Bruins set-up: Wings hope to snap losing streak vs. Bruins

The Detroit Red Wings will attempt to snap a 3-game losing streak while battling a team that’s had the Wings’ number since Detroit moved to the Eastern Conference.

Tonight, the Wings battle the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden (7:00 PM EST on NBCSN/Sportsnet/TVA Sports/NESN/97.1 FM), and the Bruins have won 7 straight games over the Wings in Boston; the 40-15-and-8 Bruins also sit some 26 points ahead of the Wings in the Eastern Conference standings.

While the Red Wings have lost their past 3 games and 6 of their past 8, the Bruins have won 3 straight and 5 of their past 7, with their most recent win coming in the form of a 2-1 OT victory over the Canadiens this past Saturday.

The Wings may be catching the Bruins at the right time, however: they’ll play without Charlie McAvoy (lower-body injury), Patrice Bergeron (broken foot) and Tuukka Rask (lower-body injury).

McAvoy was injured on Saturday, and there is great concern about the young defenseman’s injury, as the Boston Herald’s Rich Thompson noted:

The Bruins assembled at center ice of the Garden yesterday morning for a group portrait in their black and gold game jerseys. Injured center Patrice Bergeron, out with a fractured right foot, was wearing skates and seated in a folding chair that was ushered along the ice to the front row by Brandon Carlo.

Bruins executives followed, led by team president Cam Neely. The last person out of the tunnel was rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who gingerly navigated the slippery ice surface in a pair of beach sandals.

McAvoy’s choice of footwear suggests the leg injury he suffered Saturday night could be serious. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed McAvoy will not dress for tonight’s game against the Detroit Red Wings at the Garden.

“I have nothing new to report. He’s getting evaluated (yesterday),” Cassidy said. “He will not play (tonight), and we will go from there.”

McAvoy was injured 37 seconds into Saturday’s victory against the Montreal Canadiens. He appeared to trip awkwardly over the stick of Canadiens right winger Brendan Gallagher in the Bruins zone. McAvoy exited the ice in obvious pain and did not return.

Cassidy said Carlo will take McAvoy’s slot on top defensive pair with captain Zdeno Chara. Cassidy added Torey Krug, Kevan Miller and Nick Holden, who was acquired from the Rangers before the trade deadline, will start with either Matt Grzelcyk or Adam McQuaid in the sixth slot.

Why are the Bruins, their scribes and their media worried about McAvoy’s absence? Simple: he’s really good:

McAvoy is a rookie, but he’s put up veteran numbers. He has seven goals and 25 assists with a plus-26 rating against opponents’ top lines and averages 22:07 minutes per game.

The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa also took note of McAvoy’s absence as it applies to the Bruins’ outlook:

The Bruins are averaging 3.27 goals per game, fourth-most in the league, partly because of how efficiently McAvoy transports the puck from bad areas in his own zone to good spots around opposing nets.

To this point, McAvoy has been among the league’s sharpest rookies. He has 7 goals and 25 assists in 59 games. He is averaging 22:06 of ice time per game, most of any NHL rookie and second to Zdeno Chara on the Bruins. His 32 points are tops among all first-year defensemen.

 The Bruins do not have a right-shot defenseman who can replicate McAvoy’s skills. Brandon Carlo will take McAvoy’s spot on Chara’s right side, but Carlo is having a down year after a very good rookie season.

Tuukka Rask is also out, as’s Eric Russo noted

Tuukka Rask also missed Monday’s practice with what is being termed as a nagging lower-body injury. Cassidy initially believed that the Bruins’ ace netminder would be ready to go on Tuesday against Detroit, though it appears now that Anton Khudobin will get the start.

“Nursing a minor injury…we’ll keep an eye on that one,” said Cassidy. “Not having skated now for three days, doesn’t look like he’ll be able to go tomorrow…probably wants to get in a little work before he goes back in the net.”

Cassidy said the team will know more on Tuesday morning and will decide then if Rask is healthy enough to back up.

“We have a very capable back-up, so that one we’ll judge a little bit more tomorrow morning and see how [Rask’s] feeling,” said Cassidy. “If he cannot backup then we would have to reach out from Providence and go from there.”

Cassidy also suggested that the Bruins would take the Red Wings seriously:

The Bruins host the Red Wings on Tuesday night in the teams’ final meeting of the season. Boston has won all three previous matchups this season – two of which have been decided by one goal, including an overtime winner (courtesy of Brad Marchand) in mid-December.

“They have been very good against us,” said Cassidy. “I think we’ve found a way to make that one play. I think the game here at Christmas, I thought we were not very good early – I know we weren’t very good early. We found our game going into the break.

“Then up there, the overtime game we had a slow start, we made a play late to tie it with the goalie out. One play in most of these games has been the difference. And I imagine tomorrow will be more of the same, they’re healthy, they’re competing hard.”

Detroit has lost three straight and sits 9 points out of a playoff spot.’s reports that the B’s iced the following players in practice on Monday…

The Bruins also posted a Twitter video summarizing Monday’s news…

And if you’d like to take a look at the Bruins’ win over Montreal, the Associated Press and provided recaps, with providing a highlight clip:

STATS’ game preview will serve as our pivot point between the Bruins and Red Wings’ perspectives:

[Back-up goaltender Anton] Khudobin was brilliant in his 14th win of the season Saturday, keeping his team alive long enough for a late regulation goal by Jake DeBrusk before Brad Marchand’s dazzling winner in overtime.

The win lifted the Bruins to 3-0 on their six-game homestand — and they start play on Tuesday six points behind the first-place Tampa Bay Lightning (with three games in hand) atop the Atlantic Division.

The Bruins, who have won seven straight games against Detroit at TD Garden, rallied after losing rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy to a lower body injury on his first shift of the game. McAvoy reportedly was wearing a brace on his left knee when he showed up for the team picture Monday.

The Red Wings have little or no shot at qualifying for the playoffs. Their chances were severely dimmed after losing the last three games while scoring just five goals.

Detroit is 28th in the NHL in goals scored — and faces the NHL’s stingiest team next.

“We need to get those easy ones,” Franz Nielsen said after Sunday night’s loss at Minnesota. “I think, again, we keep saying it, but we gotta get in there and make it hard on the other team’s goalies.”

Khudobin has lost his only career start against the Red Wings. Detroit’s Jimmy Howard is 5-6-2 with a 2.53 goals-against average and .922 save percentage lifetime against the Bruins.

Marchand, who scored the overtime goal in Boston’s 3-2 win over the Red Wings on Dec. 13 in Detroit, fashioned a one-man effort for his winner Saturday — the 10th goal of his career in the regular season. He had the puck on the left boards, carried it around the net, walked out front and scored, against a tired group of Canadiens.

The Red Wings are trying to “stick with the process,” as they told the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa:

It is especially important, on a redeveloping team, for players with comparatively less NHL experience to continue to measure their performance by whether it helped their team achieve victory. As for the standings and playoff position, Blashill agreed the approach is, “So what? Keep going.”

“I think there’s been lots of times when it’s looked like, you know, are we going to get back up?” said Blashill, who is in the third season of a four-year contract as head coach. “We keep getting back up, and that’s what we’re going to keep doing.

“Find a way to win tomorrow night,” he said, against a surprisingly strong Bruins team, that just reloaded for the playoffs, and is in second place in the Atlantic Division.
That’s not going to be an easy task against the reinforced Bruins…

In recent weeks, the Bruins also have acquired Rick Nash, Nick Holden, Tommy Wingels and Brian Gionta, adding potentially elite scoring and some depth to solidify the roster for a deep run in the playoffs.

“They’ve obviously added some good pieces,” Blashill said. “But their identity doesn’t change and what they’re good at doesn’t change.

“I thought the last time that we played them, they were very, very good in their transition game. That’s what we want to be great at. I thought they out-transitioned us,” he said. “I don’t think they get enough credit for having a real good north game. So, we’ve got to make sure we do a better job against them.

“We’ve got to make sure we do a good job of gapping out of our end, and we’ve got to make sure we’re doing a good job of putting them on their heels,” Blashill said.

In terms of “individual stories” going into the game against Boston, Anthony Mantha’s slow but steady progression into a goal-scoring winger was the focus of Monday’s practice stories, as noted by’s Dana Wakiji

Mantha, 23, leads the team in goals with 21 and would like to have more, especially when the team is going through an offensive slump.

“Obviously, you want to score more,” Mantha said. “You always want to help the team more. From that aspect it’s been good. I think it could be even better. This season’s not over for sure, but obviously you want to score more goals to help the team win.”

The Wings have scored 170 goals. In the Eastern Conference, only the Montreal Canadiens (167) and Buffalo Sabres (154) have scored fewer. In the Western Conference, only the Arizona Coyotes with 155 have scored fewer goals.

Blashill said he’s been pleased with the progress Mantha has made through 63 games this season.

“I think he’s had a good period of growth,” Blashill said. “I think he’s improved as a hockey player. I think he understands the area which I’ve talked lots about and that’s bending his knees and skating and when he does that, he’s a real good player. I think my job as a coach is to remind him when he’s doing it right and remind him when he’s not doing it right and get him on that course as much as possible. We had a good meeting before the New Jersey game when we were in New Jersey a month and some ago and I think he’s done a pretty good job of being consistent with his approach. I just think the biggest thing for any player that wants to try to become an elite player in this league is consistency and being dominant very night. That’s what the best players do and if you can’t do that, then you’re going to be a good player, not a great player. I think he’s understanding that. But that doesn’t happen overnight and it’s been a process. Hopefully he can continue in that growth.”

The Red Wings also posted Twitter videos of comments from Mantha, Luke Witkowski and coach Blashill…

And the Detroit News’s Krupa posted a clip of Blashill speaking about the Bruins:


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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.

23 thoughts on “Red Wings-Bruins set-up: Wings hope to snap losing streak vs. Bruins”

  1. McAvoy is a tough loss for the Bruins. It appeared that he hit the boards knee first prior to the “trip” by Gallagher. Hopefully nothing too serious, the kid is fun to watch.

  2. So is Howard just going to play every game now? I don’t mind. He’s helping us fall in the standings. He had a hot start but has been mediocre for months now. But not understanding the point of wasting a call-up on Coreau. Could have just picked up some useless back-up on waivers and saved a call-up to give a young player a look.

    Oh wait, we’re down to 18 games and still not evaluating anyone from Grand Rapids. If it was me…I’d bring back Hicketts, Turgeon, give Hronek a few games, maybe Svech too. Do we really need to dress guys like Booth or Witkowski anymore? They won’t be here next year so just move on. But I guess if we go 15-1-2 like Ottawa did that one year then there is still a chance…

    1. After the trade deadline, the Red Wings and every other NHL team are restricted to 4 non-roster-emergency recalls. Because the Red Wings briefly sent Bertuzzi and Coreau down to make them eligible for the AHL playoffs, they *cannot* recall more than two players unless the team becomes unhealthy enough that they need to shore up the roster in an emergency situation.

      The team is also constrained by the salary cap despite the 23-man roster being lifted, so it would be quite complicated bringing up Hicketts, Turgeon, Hronek, Saarijarvi, etc.

      The Wings simply cannot do that.

      1. I get that. Two of our call-ups have already been burned…and one of them (Coreau) appears to serve no purpose. Should have just left him in Grand Rapids and picked up some dime-a-dozen journeyman off waivers.

        As for complicated…why can’t we waive David Booth’s $700K and recall Turgeon’s $687K?

        Why can’t we waive Witkowski’s $750K and recall Hronek or Hicketts who make less than that?

        1. Waiving + calling up = the NHL would not allow the Wings to bend the rules to bend the rules regarding roster emergencies.

          And the Wings need to know what Coreau can bring to the table. Expectations may be low, but the team can’t just sit him and expect to evaluate him.

          1. So sending Booth to Grand Rapids and recalling Turgeon is bending the rules? I thought you get 4 call-ups…then if there is an emergency the NHL can then grant an exception (ie we’ve used 4 call-ups, but now we have 2 injured goalies and need an emergency)?

  3. Yes, bending the rules into a pretzel does not count. The NHL’s not going to let the Wings or any other team “create” a roster emergency simply to evaluate AHL players.

    1. Right. If it was just that easy, then every team on the outside would probably be doing it. I know this blog is red wings centered and its hard to look outside of this team, but I don’t see any of those other teams making a bunch of call ups just because. There have been a lot of missteps by Ken and co. over the years but damn man, can we stop looking for a fault in every little thing they do (or don’t do)?

  4. I don’t want to get in a pissing match here…but the NHL allows for 4 NON-EMERGENCY call-ups. You don’t need to be injured or suspended or anything. You have the freedom to recall 4 players. So I’m not sure why my suggestion is considered bending the rules or circumventing the law? The reason we “assigned” Bert and Coreau to the AHL in that paper transaction is to make them eligible for the AHL playoffs. We then “re-called” them, utilizing 2 of our 4 call-ups. But we still have the freedom to “re-call” 2 more AHL players this season. It doesn’t need to be because someone is injured or suspended. We don’t need a reason. I fully expect this to happen. Wait for it. It’s coming. I’m merely suggesting we do that now rather than later.
    As for other franchises, well yes, some have already been utilizing their NON-EMERGENCY call-ups. Look at Edmonton. Guys like Bear and Rattie were recalled to give them a look down the stretch. Buffalo has done the same. Neither club is breaking the law…

    1. I fully expect the Wings to use their 2 non-emergency call-ups on evaluating players as opposed to waiting for injuries. We agree there. That’s going to happen. But I do not believe that the Red Wings can engineer roster emergencies by assigning roster players to the AHL. That’s all.

      1. Sorry but I never said anything about engineering roster emergencies. I never wanted to exceed the 4 call-ups. We’ve used 2 of them. Just suggesting we use the last 2 ASAP. I don’t need to see Booth and Witkowski playing 4 minutes a night. If the organization is finished with Ouellet, then stop using him and let’s bring back Hicketts or Hronek for a look.

        And somehow that became me advocating for engineering fake injuries and creating phantom emergencies. And people telling me that if it was so easy why aren’t other teams doing it…well they are. We just happen to be waiting longer…for reasons.

        1. The way I read your initial comments were that the Wings should send Booth and Witkowski down. Doing so would necessitate bringing up 2 players from Grand Rapids, and that could be construed as engineering a roster emergency. You weren’t clear either.

          Why does everything have to be such a production? This isn’t about “winning the comments section.”

          1. Sending Booth and Witkowski to Grand Rapids. And then recalling Turgeon and Hicketts. Not sure how that is misconstrued as engineering a roster emergency. And since we have 2 free call-ups it doesn’t matter.

            I would define engineering an emergency as…calling up 4 players, then deciding you would like a 5th, so you fake an injury or have someone enter the substance abuse program and then seek permission for a 5th. That’s circumventing the rules. Not sure why calling up a couple of kids was viewed by others that way. It’s not shady. Every team has the right to call up 4 players. We’ve called up 2. 2 to go. Use them whenever you want. For whatever reason you want. I feel like some misunderstood that all 4 guys were only accessible if someone was injured…

          2. FS, for the record, I would consider the *schedule* of the AHL to be superior. It’s the grind of playing 3 games in 4 nights most weekends, sometimes 3-in-3 in 3 different cities, the 76-game schedule over 36 games and playoffs, that grind >> level of play for me.

            I don’t mean any offense. I just hold a different opinion.

          3. Agree George. The AHL schedule is more similar to the NHL. But college allows more time for practice and skill development.
            And we are seeing more and more guys jump from college straight to the NHL and bypass the AHL.
            Again, not saying Pope or Pearson or Holway are ready to make that jump. I don’t think any are ready for that. But I do think they are very underappreciated among the fanbase and media. If they join the Griffins I expect them to quickly show they are superior to many other prospects. So let’s just agree to disagree.

    2. Fatty,
      Rattie isn’t on the Oilers roster anymore. Two games wasn’t much of a look….

      1. So what? They used 1 of their 4 call-ups on a player, took a look, and came to a conclusion that he wasn’t effective.

        Meanwhile, we rotate David Booth and Luke Witkowski and play them 4 minutes a night.

          1. You’re right, savvie. You are infallible, you know it all, and anyone who disagrees is just too stupid to see your genius.

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