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Bruins handle their business against the Red Wings

Tuukka Rask stifled the Red Wings all series long.
Tuukka Rask stifled the Red Wings all series long.
Photo by Leon Halip

Montreal being the first team to punch their ticket for the second round of the NHL playoffs may have been a bit surprising, but Boston being the second team is zero percent surprising. The Bruins were the best team in the NHL this regular season, so the fact they were able to oust the Detroit Red Wings in five games is pretty much what was expected, even by me, a Red Wings fan.

The Wings were able to pull that upset in game one when Jimmy Howard blanked the Bruins and Pavel Datsyuk scored a great goal. However, they were largely outplayed in that game, and that remained the case in every game afterward. Even the return of Henrik Zetterberg couldn't get another win for Detroit, and having to replace Howard with Jonas Gustavsson didn't help, although Gustavsson played fine in his stead. When they lost game four in overtime, any slim chance they had of moving on was done. On Saturday afternoon, they lost game five by a score of 4-2, with that final goal being an empty-netter, and that was that.

We now know the Bruins will play the Canadiens, with both teams getting plenty of rest. This should be a great series, but Boston looks tough to beat. Detroit's offense isn't great, but the Bruins still did not let them score more than two goals in a game, and Tuukka Rask remains the NHL's best netminder. This is the team to beat.

Detroit managed to keep their playoff streak alive, but pretty much everybody figured that would be it. This is a team stuck in a tenuous middle ground. Their best players are getting up there in years, while their young players seem maybe a year or two away, and they may not be the next generation of great Red Wings. Plus, this team simply needs help on defense. Keeping the playoff streak going seems eminently doable, but anything beyond that feels like a stretch.

Boston, meanwhile, is like the Wings in their heyday. If they don't make it to the Stanley Cup Final, it will feel like something went awry.