Earlier in Mike Babcock’s days as head coach of the Detroit Red Wings, they were one of the best teams in the league. The Red Wings reached the Western Conference Final in 2007 and made the Stanley Cup Final in each of the following two years, with them securing a championship in 2008.
A lot has changed since then for the Red Wings as some of the key players from that era like Nicklas Lidstrom have retired and the next generation is establishing itself. So it didn’t come as a shock that Detroit couldn’t match up against Boston in the first round, but it did give Babcock an opportunity to get a close look at the Bruins and he was very impressed with what he saw.
“This [Bruins] team that we played today is like we used to be in ’08, ’09, and ’07,” Babcock said, per CSN New England. “They’re a legit contender with a good depth and good experience. I think it’s just overall depth.”
Boston showed off its offensive depth in the five-game first round series against Detroit. Ten different Bruins found the back of the net and only three Boston players — Johnny Boychuk, Brad Marchand, and Gregory Campbell — played in all five contests without recording a point.
On top of that, goaltender Tuukka Rask played like, well, Tuukka Rask.
“Some teams have got a real good team, and their goalie gets you started, gets the opposition started,” Babcock said. “This [Rask] kid doesn’t get you started. Not only does he stop the puck, he plays the puck good, so it’s harder to get in on their D.”
With so many different factors working for the Bruins, they certainly look like they’re poised to have a long playoff run.
This has been a tough postseason for Phil Kessel haters.
The supposed “choker” is on a team that’s in the Eastern Conference Final, but Kessel obviously isn’t just in for the ride with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He scored his 18th point in 17 postseason games by scoring the 1-0 goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6.
(Watch that goal in the video above.)
It was a dramatic first period, with a Jonathan Drouin goal getting disallowed and Andrei Vasilevskiy making some huge saves on tough chances.
Can Pittsburgh protect this slim lead with 1-0 down one period? We’ll see, but either way, what a great postseason for Kessel.
To start the seemingly pivotal stretch, Andrei Vasilevskiy made an outstanding save on Evgeni Malkin on what sure looked like a scary chance.
The play swiftly shifted from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s end to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ side of the ice, and it seemed like Jonathan Drouin scored a big 1-0 goal in Game 6.
As it turns out, the goal was disallowed thanks to an offside goal review.
Here are a few viewpoints on that moment in GIF form … you can get a fuller view via the video above.
The general feeling among those who don’t have a horse in the race is that it was the right call. (Lightning fans were, uh, not happy.)
At some point, it will probably be kind of boring to hear members of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization praise Jonathan Drouin.
At least if Drouin re-signs with the Bolts after quite the affirming postseason and his ascension amid injuries.
These days? It’s still sort of entertaining.
In the latest case, Jon Cooper was asked to compare the development paths for Nikita Kucherov vs. Drouin. After empathizing with the pressure Drouin carries as a high-end pick (vs. Kucherov’s ability to come in under the radar), Cooper had some very positive things to say about No. 27.
” … So many people think, well, you’re just going to step in the league at 18 and be dominant,” Cooper said. “I truly believe Jonathan is going to be dominant in this league, but it’s hard to do at 18. He had to work through it, and that’s it.”
Drouin, now at 21, has 12 points in 15 playoff games.
In other Lightning news, it sounds like the team will roll with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, an alignment that has been working well lately and also came through at times during the 2015 postseason.
The Penguins, meanwhile, replace Beau Bennett with Conor Sheary.
Tonight could be the final game of the Eastern Conference Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning. You can catch Game 6 via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.
Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay (8:00 p.m. ET)
The television broadcast of Game 6 is on NBCSN. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here. The Bolts lead the series 3-2.
Here’s some relevant reading material to get you ready for tonight’s game:
—Malkin guaranteed a Penguins win in Game 6
—Lightning coach doesn’t seem flustered by Malkin’s guarantee
—Kucherov continues to be clutch for the Bolts this postseason
—Marc-Andre Fleury: ‘I should have been better’ in Game 5