The Stanley Cup playoffs offered a new kind of postseason match-up starting on April 18. Thanks to conference realignment, the Detroit Red Wings are in the Eastern Conference bracket of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time, which meant they could face their fellow Original Six member Boston Bruins in the opening round. However, the Bruins and Red Wings were separated by a great deal in the regular season -- but it didn't matter once Detroit got a 1-0 win in Game 1 anyway.
Boston won the Presidents Trophy and earned home-ice through the Stanley Cup playoffs with 117 points. Yet it took only one game for the Bruins to lose it, since they couldn't get anything past the Red Wings' Jimmy Howard. Yet Detroit couldn't get anything past Tuukka Rask either, until there were three minutes to spare.
The scoreless duel finally ended thanks to Pavel Datsyuk, who has been part of many a Detroit run in the Western Conference playoffs. He capped the Red Wings' first Eastern Conference postseason game with a flourish, carrying the puck past multiple defensemen and sending a 30-foot blast past Rask. After being shut out for so long, there was no way that Boston would recover from that in such short time.
The Red Wings squeaked into the postseason, while the Bruins barely lost for much of the second half of the regular season. But the Stanley Cup playoffs haven't taken the regular season into account, as the Pittsburgh Penguins and Colorado Avalanche already survived Game 1 upset bids, while the St. Louis Blues erased a six-game losing streak in triple overtime over the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks. However, an opening loss from Boston trumps all those early surprises.
With the series only one game old and with the Bruins' postseason experience, there is still a long way left for the Red Wings to travel. Yet the possibility of a major, Stanley Cup altering early upset is much stronger than it looked 24 hours earlier. If Boston doesn't find more offense soon, even Rask won't be enough to stop it.
The Bruins have another 24 hours to find it, before Game 2 on April 20 at 3 p.m. est.