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Preview: Bruins (54-19) at Red Wings (39-28)
BT Movements  ·  Line Movements
Date: April 24, 2014 8:00 PM EDT
  

DETROIT (AP) - The Boston Bruins have held the Detroit Red Wings to historically poor offensive production.

With two goals through three games, the Red Wings are off to their worst three-game start in any playoff series since getting shut out in the first three games of the 1945 Stanley Cup finals.

Boston goalie Tuukka Rask, backchecking forwards and shot-blocking defensemen have had a lot to do with that.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock, though, suggested his team has made it easier on Rask by failing to get players close to him to perhaps redirect pucks past him.

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'He's a world-class goalie, skates great,' Babcock said. 'Looks great in warmups - that's where he's getting his most shots.'

The Bruins have turned defense into offense to win the last two games by a combined score of 7-1. The dominating performances have lifted the defending Eastern Conference champions to a 2-1 lead in the opening-round series.

Detroit has to win Game 4 at home Thursday night to avoid facing elimination when the series shifts to Boston for Game 5.

When the puck drops in Joe Louis Arena, here are five things to watch.

BLACKOUT D: By design, the Bruins are really good on defense. Claude Julien coaches them to clog the middle of the ice, blocking shots with bodies and sticks, and to be physical at times and patient when opponents stay on the outside with the puck. 'It's up to us to work hard without the puck,' Julien said. 'We've done a good job of backchecking and that has been a big help. The defensive game is not just about the goaltending.'

WILL Z? OR WON'T Z? Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg created a buzz at Wednesday's practice, skating hard with his teammates and sounding encouraged about how he feels eight weeks after having back surgery. Zetterberg would not rule out the possibility he will play in Game 4. 'I've got to be cleared by the doctor,' he said. Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi - expected to make his series debut in the place of 21-year-old forward Tomas Jurco on Thursday - said Zetterberg has looked 'good and strong,' while skating with him this week. Detroit does expect to be without forward Daniel Alfredsson for a second straight game because of his back injury. Babcock says he expects Alfredsson to be healthy enough to play Saturday afternoon at Boston in Game 5.

YOUNG GUNS: Boston is a veteran-laden team, but its young players are starting to get noticed for scoring and doing their part on defense. Dougie Hamilton, a 20-year-old defenseman, scored his first playoff goal and Jordan Caron, a 23-year-old forward, had his first postseason point to help the Bruins beat Detroit 3-0 in Game 3. After playing his fourth NHL game earlier this month, 23-year-old Justin Florek scored the first of Boston's four goals in Game 2 and Reilly Smith, another 23-year-old forward, followed a few minutes later with his first career score in the playoffs.

IN THE NET: Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard has a tough task, attempting to outplay Rask. He seemed to fall short when Boston scored its first goal in a 3-0 win Tuesday night on what looked like a relatively weak wrist shot. Howard, though, bristled when he was asked if it was 'a soft goal,' the next day. 'When your defenseman goes to throw his stick in front of him, he's trying to do his best to deflect the puck away from the net,' Howard said. 'That can cause a split hesitation where you don't know where the puck is going to go for a second and just like that the puck is in the net.'

BABIES ON BOARD: Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk did not practice Wednesday so that he could be with his wife and baby, who the team said was born sometime after Game 3 Tuesday night. Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall also was absent because his girlfriend was expected to deliver their child on Wednesday. Babcock said he expected both to play in Game 4. 'They're not giving birth,' he deadpanned.

---

Follow Larry Lage on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/larrylage

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

 SERIES AT A GLANCE
GAME 1
Red Wings at Bruins
Fri, Apr 18 Final 1 to 0
 Boxscores    Recaps
GAME 2
Red Wings at Bruins
Sun, Apr 20 Final 1 to 4
 Boxscores    Recaps
GAME 3
Bruins at Red Wings
Tue, Apr 22 Final 3 to 0
 Boxscores    Recaps
GAME 4
Bruins at Red Wings
Thu, Apr 24 Final 3 to 2
 Boxscores    Recaps
GAME 5
Red Wings at Bruins
Sat, Apr 26 Final 2 to 4
 Boxscores    Recaps

 CURRENT LAS VEGAS LINE
 Team  ML   PUC   O/U 
 BOS  -150      5 
 DET  +130      
LAS VEGAS LINE MOVEMENTS

 CURRENT SPORTSBOOK LINE
 Team  ML   PUC   O/U 
 BOS  -150      5 
 DET  +130      
OFFSHORE LINE MOVEMENTS

 BETTING TRENDS
 Team  ML   PUC   O/U 
 BOS  75%   86%   46% 
 DET  25%   14%   54% 
BT MOVEMENTS

 NHL HEAD TO HEAD
 Apr 22, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 BOS 3 Cover: 273 
 DET 0 Under: 3 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Apr 20, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 DET 1 Push: 5 
 BOS 4 Cover: 163 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Apr 18, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 DET 1 Under: 1 
 BOS 0 Cover: 169 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Apr 2, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 BOS 2 Cover: 239 
 DET 3 Under: 5 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Nov 27, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 BOS 1 Cover: 315 
 DET 6 Over: 7 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Oct 14, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 DET 3 Push: 5 
 BOS 2 Cover: 219 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Oct 5, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 DET 1 Under: 5 
 BOS 4 Cover: 223 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps

 NHL PREVIEWS
 Thursday, Apr 24
 
    Bruins at Red Wings
8:05 PM EDT
    Avalanche at Wild
9:35 PM EDT
    Sharks at Kings
10:35 PM EDT
 
 
 
  
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