W2W4: Bruins-Red Wings, 8 ET

April, 24, 2014
Apr 24
2:00
PM ET
DETROIT -- With a Game 4 win Thursday against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, the Boston Bruins will have a chance to clinch their first-round playoff series on TD Garden ice Saturday.

The Bruins hold a 2-1 lead. Detroit defeated Boston in Game 1, 1-0, but the Bruins have won the last two games, 4-1 and 3-0, respectively.

Here’s what to watch for in Game 4:

POSSIBLE RETURN: The Red Wings could receive a jolt of leadership in Game 4 if captain Henrik Zetterberg returns to the lineup. The veteran forward has been out since the Winter Olympics after having back surgery. He’s been skating and participated in the team’s game-day skate Thursday. Detroit coach Mike Babcock said Zetterberg would meet with the team’s medical staff before a final decision is made, but the coach said he’s hopeful the captain is back.

If that does happen, the Bruins won’t change their game plan.

“We can’t just worry about one player,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “In my mind he’s going to be there tonight. We expected that so that’s not a concern. The biggest thing here is they’ve got a real good player on their team. Where he is and his conditioning, I don’t know. But, at the same time, every playoff game has to be about your team; it can’t be about the other team. We make adjustments to play against the other team, not the other individual, so that’s not going to change for us.”

The Bruins players concur with their coach in regards to Zetterberg.

“He’s definitely a great player,” said Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron. “That being said, it doesn’t change our game plan. We respect the Red Wings as they are, they’re a great team offensively with a lot of firepower and he’s definitely an addition to that. We need to make sure we keep playing that team game defensively, communicate well, and we do the right thing and keep them to the outside as much as possible.”

PUSH BACK: The Bruins have been able to play their style of game in this series, especially in Games 2 and 3. Babcock described his team as playing like a bunch of kids in Game 3, saying men play in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Red Wings have the ability to wear teams down with their speed, but that aspect of their game hasn’t been too successful in this series. Detroit doesn’t want to get into a physical battle with the Bruins, but there should be some pushback from the Red Wings in Game 4.

STONEWALLED: The Bruins have limited the Red Wings to only two goals in this series. Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask has stopped 96 of 98 shots and posted a 3-0 shutout in Game 3. The Bruins have done a solid job of keeping the Red Wings on the perimeter, and Detroit is hoping that changes in Game 4.

“Well, you’ve got to give [Rask] credit, he made some big saves [in Game 3],” Babcock said. “I don’t know if he’s got light nights against us so far. I would’ve thought, with the exception of Game 1, they’ve done an exceptional job of pushing us out of the middle and looking on the outside. To me, that’s not good enough, you’ve got to work harder and be on the inside.

“We’ve been behind so fast in the last two games, you don’t even get to test Boston because they’re ahead. ... Saying all that, we know he’s a world-class goalie, he skates great and looks great in warmup, and that’s where he’s getting the most shots.”

At the other end of the ice, Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard posted a 1-0 shutout in Game 1, but has allowed seven goals in the last two games.

INJURY UPDATE: Bruins forward Daniel Paille (head) has been cleared for contact and participated in the team’s morning skate on Thursday. But he did not take line rushes with Boston’s fourth line, as Jordan Caron remained with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton. Bruins forward Chris Kelly (back) has not been on the ice.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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