Red Wings-Bruins mini preview: Wings host Bruins for a ‘swing game’ in Sunday matinee

Updated at 7:55 AM: The Detroit Red Wings face a game of some importance as they host the Boston Bruins on Sunday afternoon (1 PM EST start on Bally Sports Detroit/NESN/Sportsnet/97.1 FM).

Boston stands at 15-10-and-2 after having played their 27th game on Saturday–their first since the NHL’s “pause”–in the form of a 4-3 overtime victory over the Buffalo Sabres in a Saturday matinee in Boston.

That victory places Boston exactly 1 point behind the 15-14-and-3 Red Wings in the Atlantic Division standings, with Boston still having 5 full games in hand on Detroit (27 to 32 games played), so the Red Wings would be wise to rebound from their 3-1 loss to Washington on Friday by pushing the Bruins at least 3 points in arrears instead of allowing the Bruins to take a 1-point lead in the standings.

In other words, today’s game is a serious “Swing Game” in the standings, and as our friends from Boston are coming off a game played–and, as there will be no morning skate on Sunday, we’re not going to really know what the teams’ rosters look like until they hit the ice for the game-day warm-up around 12:30 PM EST today.

That being said, examining the Bruins’ win on Saturday will help, as provided by the Associated Press’s recap of Saturday’s game…

Charlie Coyle scored on a wrist shot from the slot 34 seconds into overtime and Boston completed a 4-3 comeback victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday in the Bruins’ first game in 16 days.

Playing for the first time since Dec. 16 after six of their games were postponed due to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols and holiday break, the Bruins erased a 3-1 deficit when Nick Foligno and Taylor Hall scored early in the third period.

Craig Smith also scored for Boston, and Linus Ullmark stopped 21 shots. The Bruins outshot the Sabres 41-24 to snap a two-game losing streak.

”We were in kind of a rut there,” Ullmark said of Boston falling behind. ”But as the game went on, we got better and better.”

Jeff Skinner and Vinnie Hinostroza both returned from COVID-19 protocols and each had a goal for Buffalo. Alex Tuch added a power-play score and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 37 saves for the Sabres, who have lost their last three games. Buffalo has dropped 10 of its last 11 against Boston (1-9-1).

Trailing 3-1, Foligno lifted a backhander over Luukkonen for his first goal of the season. He looked toward the ceiling in jubilation after scoring.

”It felt great,” Foligno said. ”It felt nice to be able to reward the guys with a goal. … To be honest with you, I used that break that we had to reset the mind.”

Former Sabre Hall tied it with a wrister from the slot.

And NHL.com’s Patrick Donnelly’s recap (which also includes a Game Summary, Event Summary and team Roster sheets)…

Boston last played Dec. 16, a 3-1 loss at the New York Islanders, before having six games postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.

“It’s been a long time since we played our last game. … As the game went on, I thought we got better and better,” Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark said. “It’s just nice to get a comeback win. I was pretty happy. … To come back from those first two periods and finish it off in overtime, it’s great.”

Craig Smith, Nick Foligno and Taylor Hall scored for the Bruins (15-10-2), who trailed by two early in the third period. Charlie McAvoy had three assists, and Ullmark made 21 saves.

Foligno scored his first goal with Boston on a rebound to cut it to 3-2 at 3:24 of the third. The forward played his 19th game for the Bruins after signing as a free agent in the offseason.

“[Scoring] felt great,” Foligno said. “It’s something I want to do for this team. Especially with the opportunities I’ve been given, I want to make the most of it. It’s nice to get rewarded with a goal. … It was nice to see our line connect on that and get our team going.”

If you wish to watch the highlights of the game as a “pre-scout,” you may certainly do so, via Sportsnet…

And it’s worth noting that Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy changed up the Bruins’ lines significantly just before the game:

Field Level Media filled in a couple of blanks as well regarding the Bruins in COVID protocols (or the lack thereof):

It was their first game since Dec. 16. They had six games postponed before finally returning to action. Charlie McAvoy recorded assists on three goals for Boston, which rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the third.

“Good resiliency in the third to stay with it,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Did a good job once we tied the game as well. We took a penalty late and obviously you don’t want to, but other than that I thought we did a lot of things well.”

Coyle was one of the Bruins players who recently exited protocols.

“You can only do so much when you’re off like that and don’t have access to a lot of things,” he said in a TV interview. “I just tried to use yesterday’s practice as kind of a stepping stone to see where I’m at and tried to take short shifts.”

Barring any more postponements, the Bruins are playing five games in eight days.

“It’s nice to start the New Year, first game after a long break, on the right note and get two points, get the snowball rolling in the right direction,” Coyle said.

Sadly, there wasn’t much of anything posted from the Red Wings’ practice on Saturday, save an article in which MLive’s Ansar Khan discussed Moritz Seider’s physicality, and a three-topic notebook focusing on the Wings’ ability to stick with it in close games from the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan, but Pius Suter and coach Jeff Blashill did speak with the media on Saturday:

Update: The Associated Press posted a game preview later in the overnight hours:

BOTTOM LINE: The Detroit Red Wings host Boston after the Bruins defeated Buffalo 4-3 in overtime.

The Red Wings have gone 4-4-2 against division opponents. Detroit is first in the Eastern Conference with 4.8 assists per game, led by Lucas Raymond averaging 0.6.

The Bruins are 7-3-1 against opponents from the Atlantic. Boston averages 8.3 penalty minutes per game, the 10th-most in the Eastern Conference. Brad Marchand leads the team serving 38 total minutes.

In their last meeting on Nov. 30, Detroit won 2-1.

TOP PERFORMERS: Dylan Larkin has 29 total points for the Red Wings, 15 goals and 14 assists. Pius Suter has six assists over the last 10 games for Detroit.

Marchand leads the Bruins with 11 goals and has 29 points. Patrice Bergeron has 7 points over the last 10 games for Boston.

LAST 10 GAMES: Red Wings: 5-5-0, averaging 2.7 goals, 4.4 assists, 3.1 penalties and 7.1 penalty minutes while giving up 3.1 goals per game with a .902 save percentage.

Bruins: 5-3-2, averaging 2.2 goals, 3.7 assists, 3.6 penalties and 7.5 penalty minutes while giving up 2.1 goals per game with a .933 save percentage.

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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.

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