NHL Extra: Breaking down Red Wings vs. Bruins

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Looking for the numbers breakdown for how these two teams stack up? Look no further as we’ve got you covered as the Red Wings and Bruins drop the puck at 12:30 p.m. ET.

Team scoring

Boston is sixth in the NHL in goals scored with 170.  They’re also fifth in the NHL at goals per game with 3.07. Patrice Bergeron is their leading scorer with 45 points (19 goals, 26 assists). Milan Lucic is their top goal scorer with 23 goals and the power forward will be looking to make his presence felt today both physically and on the scoreboard. The B’s may not have one player dominating in scoring, but they do have eight players with 10+ goals this season. The most surprising of that bunch might be rookie Brad Marchand with 15 goals and 14 assists. Zdeno Chara is their top defenseman in scoring with 10 goals, 20 assists.

Detroit is second in the NHL in goal scoring with 183 goals and third in goals per game with 3.29. The Wings are led by Henrik Zetterberg in scoring with 60 points. Zetterberg has 17 goals and 43 assists to pace the Wings and considering he’s been one of the handful of forwards to play every game this year, his carrying of the offense is no surprise. Johan Franzen leads the team in goals with 26 and while we’re doubting he’ll pot five goals the way he did against Ottawa earlier this year, he’s a streaky scorer so if he gets hot again, look out. Nicklas Lidstrom’s 11 goals and 33 assists from the blue line are good for second on the team in scoring and for being the top defenseman in points for Detroit. If you’re missing out on names like Pavel Datsyuk and Dan Cleary, it’s because they’ve been injured recently but with the team getting back to health they’re as dangerous as they ever were once again.

Goaltending

Boston’s goaltending has been all the rage this year and it’s thanks to Tim Thomas. Thomas is 26-6-6 this season and sporting a minuscule 1.91 goals against average with an astounding .941 save percentage. Thomas has seven shutouts this season as well helping to boost those incredible numbers and he’ll get the start today against Detroit. His backup Tuukka Rask hasn’t been the same guy we saw in the playoffs last year so far this season and should he see action today, he’ll bring his 2.89 goals against average and .916 save percentage in to play. For that to happen though Thomas will have to have a pretty rough game.

Detroit is led by Jimmy Howard in goal. Howard is 27-10-3 this season with a 2.85 goals against average and a .906 save percentage. The numbers aren’t outstanding in comparison to Thomas but the team has been able to support him with great offense. If things get really out of hand it’ll be Joey MacDonald getting the call off the bench to take over. MacDonald is 1-3-1 this year with a .913 save percentage and a 2.39 goals against average in limited action.

Special Teams

Special teams could decide this game and for Boston their power play checks in as the 17th best in the NHL at 17.4%. Their penalty kill is good for 14th in the league at 82.5% and they’ll get that tested in a big way today with the Red Wings. Detroit has the fifth best power play in the league scoring at a 20.9% rate. Being able to score on one out of every five man-advantages is pretty astounding. As for the Wings PK, they’re average stopping teams at a 81.3% good for 18th in the NHL.

Contrast in styles

While we’re not saying that Detroit isn’t a physical team, they certainly don’t roll over for teams that get rough with them, they’re not in the same league as the Bruins when it comes to getting tough. Detroit’s puck possession brand of hockey doesn’t rely on being physically imposing, it’s a brand of hockey that couldn’t be more different than Boston’s tight defensive, physically imposing style of play. Give a read to our compare and contrast piece on these two teams.

Streaks and standings

The Bruins sit atop the Northeast Division with 69 points and are winners of four of their last six games. The Bruins are looking to bounce back after being humbled at home by the Red Wings 6-1. Boston holds a one point lead over Montreal in the division and sit third in the Eastern Conference.

Detroit is leading the Central Division with 72 points and are second in the Western Conference to the Vancouver Canucks. Detroit has won two of their last three and appear to heading towards better consistency and dropping the streaky act. A win today would certainly prove they’re in a good place. They hold a five point lead over Nashville in the Central and a four point lead on Dallas in the West.

NHL Extra

If you’d like to ask James and I questions and get our thoughts on today’s game, you can join us for NHL Extra online and follow along with the action that way. To join us for NHL Extra click here. We’ll be kicking things off at 12:30 p.m.

The Buzzer: Celebrating genius of McDavid, Bergeron, Karlsson

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Player of the Night: Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins

Nico Hischier collected two goals and an assist in a blistering effort as the Devils beat the Senators in overtime. Erik Karlsson almost ruined things for New Jersey with three assists. Andrei Vasilevskiy pitched an impressive 43-save shutout as the Lightning edged the Blue Jackets. Ben Bishop narrowly kept Clayton Keller and Derek Stepan from even bigger nights, yet each player scored two goals and one assist apiece in a slim Stars win vs. the Coyotes.

Even Bergeron’s teammates made some waves.

There were great choices for player of the night, but ultimately, Bergeron’s return to the Bruins lineup stands tallest. He scored a goal and three assists, soothing injury-bummed Bruins fans as part of Boston’s victory against Vancouver.

Bergeron didn’t ease right in. He won half of his draws, fired six shots on goal, and almost logged 21 minutes of ice time. Maybe he can hold things together for Boston?

Highlight of the Night: Connor McDavid‘s ridiculous assist

This post goes into greater detail on that and Edmonton’s win, so we’ll just stick this GIF in here because you need to see it either way:

OK, but to avoid an overly redundant buzzer, check Hischier here, David Pastrnak‘s great goal, and Mikhail Sergachev‘s big night. And, as a bonus, Will Butcher must have nodded to Karlsson after sending this ridiculous outlet pass:

Outstanding.

You know what? Enjoy Bishop robbing Derek Stepan as a bonus bonus.

Misc.

Click here for Erik Gudbranson‘s hit and fight. Zack Kassian‘s hit on Ryan Hartman is mentioned there, but just in case you missed it, here it is one more time:

Factoids of the night

Pekka Rinne and the Nashville Predators continued their hot streak by blanking the Flyers. Rinne enjoys a milestone moment:

Two impressive bits regarding how dominant McDavid and Karlsson have been:

Scores and more

Bruins 6, Canucks 3 (more)

Devils 5, Senators 4 [OT] (more)

Islanders 4, Rangers 3 [SO]

Predators 1, Flyers 0

Lightning 2, Blue Jackets 0 (more)

Oilers 2, Blackhawks 1 [OT] (more)

Blues 4, Avalanche 3

Hurricanes 2, Flames 1

Stars 5, Coyotes 4

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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Should Erik Gudbranson get suspended for boarding Frank Vatrano?

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The Boston Bruins power play made Erik Gudbranson and the Vancouver Canucks pay with three goals during the major for his hit on Frank Vatrano, but the NHL might decide to go further.

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety confirmed that Gudbranson, 25, will receive a Friday hearing for the boarding check. The league tends to be vague about this, but Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that it’s expected to being an interview over the phone, rather than the in-person variety that can bring about harsher punishments.

Vatrano returned to the Bruins’ eventual 6-3 win against the Canucks, yet there’s a chance that he might have a setback. (Knowing Boston’s recent luck, don’t count on good news until you see it.)

Watch the video and Gudbranson’s fight with Tim Schaller in the video above, via Hockey Fights.

Fans responded to that announcement by pointing out one of Thursday’s other questionable hits: Zack Kassian on Ryan Hartman, which only drew a minor penalty:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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McDavid dazzles again, Oilers break slump with OT win vs. Blackhawks

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Update: The Edmonton Oilers ended up needing every bit of Connor McDavid‘s brilliance, as goals weren’t coming easily against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.

(Even though, as you can see with that highlight-reel assist, McDavid often makes it look easy.)

McDavid also managed a secondary assist on Mark Letestu‘s overtime-winner, ending the Edmonton Oilers’ losing streak at four games. The Blackhawks continue to be resourceful in getting standings points, in this case falling 2-1 in OT.

Anton Forsberg made 40 of 42 saves, but it wasn’t enough against a driven group led by number 97.

Here’s the OT goal.

If you haven’t seen the more amazing of McDavid’s two helpers, do yourself a favor and check it out. You won’t regret it.

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Connor McDavid’s speed and skill are glorious, but the thing that makes him extra-sensational is just how unstoppable he seems. Even against some of the NHL’s best.

To start the season, McDavid made very-solid Calgary Flames defenseman T.J. Brodie look downright permeable during the most impressive goal in his opening-night hat trick.

If that wasn’t impressive enough, the superstar tore through the Chicago Blackhawks – including certain future Hall of Famer Duncan Keith – and then sent absolutely obscene pass to Patrick Maroon for an easy goal.

You know how people used to say that a fire hydrant could score 50 goals with Mario Lemieux? We might need to bump that down to 30 for modern hockey, but either way, Maroon might laugh uncomfortably at such jokes.

If you prefer your jaw-droppers in GIF form, drop away:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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Bergeron bombastic in return, but Bruins lose Krejci to injury

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The roller coaster isn’t slowing down for the Boston Bruins.

With Tuukka Rask‘s concussion looming over the proceedings, the Bruins gave fans some reason to celebrate; Patrice Bergeron scored a goal and three assists in an impressive 6-3 output by the B’s top guns against the overmatched Vancouver Canucks.

Even Anders Bjork enjoyed some measure of redemption after bowling over Rask in practice, as the young player scored two goals and an assist despite being limited to 12:29 TOI.

Other big guns like Brad Marchand did their increasingly reliable damage, with David Pastrnak probably providing the most exhilarating goal of the contest:

Yeah, that might get some attention from Canucks coach Travis Green in film sessions, assuming he doesn’t just burn the tape.

Bergeron broke down his night to Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy after the game:

The Bruins really made Erik Gudbranson and the Canucks pay for boarding Frank Vatrano, as they scored three power-play goals on the major penalty. Vatrano’s another health situation to watch, although it’s heartening that he returned during the game.

MORE: Gudbranson faces hearing for hit

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So … solid stuff overall, as the Bruins provided ample evidence that they might have the weapons to scrap through all this bad luck.

Then again, if opponents can slow the top-end guys, you wonder what kind of supporting cast the Bruins will have left through this run of attrition. David Krejci is the latest name to land on Boston’s troubling list of walking wounded.

Here’s hoping that it isn’t a big issue for a veteran center who’s dealt with nagging injuries in recent years.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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