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On a quiet Saturday across North America anticipation was in the air:
Q. What anticipation? The big game is tomorrow.
A. No way! I heard there is something special happening tonight.
Q. What's on tonight?
A. The NHL has thirteen games on the menu.
Q. Aah! Nothing special?
A. But there is something special. Tonight two Original Six teams are squaring off.
Q. Really! Which teams?
...wow, thirteen games on the docket but nothing as good as Detroit vs. Boston. How great is it to see these two teams play?
Well, this match-up doesn't happen too often. This is the only time they will play each other this year. Unless they both make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. An old rivalry in primetime, excellent.
Speaking of old, the Red Wings feature the oldest team in the NHL. With ten players in their thirty's and yes, two players in their forty's. Dominik Hasek and Chris Chelios are 43 and 46 respectively.
The Red Wings have had the rare opportunity of rotating goaltenders, so it will be Chris Osgood and Tim Thomas between the pipes tonight. Osgood has been in the NHL for 14 years (10 with the Red Wings) while this is the 4th year for Thomas (all with the Bruins). Both goalies are playing well. Thomas is on a five game winning streak and Osgood's play has garnered a contract extension.
With great fanfare the game opens with both teams attacking. The Bruins, however, have the upper hand. Detroit's in a second game in as many nights and there legs seem a little slow. A turnover at center ice gives Boston a 2 on 1 break and they score.
It would remain 1-0 as the Bruins press for every inch of ice. The tide would turn slightly as the Red Wings started to skate better and possess the puck more.
The Red Wings are known as a puck possession team and are capable of controlling play for long periods of time. There efforts would result in a goal late in the second period, evening the score at 1-1.
The second intermission brought great anticipation. Two rivals playing great at the same time.
Excitement ruled the crowd as play resumed. On the road, Red Wing fans come to the arenas in significant numbers, and this was no different at TD Banknorth Garden. The home faithful would have to work hard all night to overpower the enemy.
At TD Banknorth Garden new history was being made. The new name of the arena was once the Fleet Center, changed in 1995 to it's present. But before that this sort of spectacle would be seen in the Boston Gardens. Championship banners from many battles, presidents, prime ministers and even the big circuses would elicit great cheer from local fans. The Gardens had seen it all.
This is a different time now. The Bruins have had a lot of mediocre years and the Red Wings have been very successful for a decade and a half.
The crowd was silenced early in the third as Pavel Datsyuk scored less than two minutes in, assisted by his two linemates, Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom. The Red Wings were flying. In control now. Their defense would not wither.
The Bruins fought bravely, found some opportunities to tie the score but Osgood would put up a brick wall at every encounter. It wasn't until a late powerplay goal by the Red Wings that the outcome was set. It was over. The Red Wings would take this one.
The battle wasn't bloody but the players put their hearts on the line for this one. The Boston Bruins were looking for validation against the league's elite, a way to measure how far they had come but the Detroit Red Wings were looking to maintain a course that leads to promised greatness.
The Red Wings skated of the ice as the victors but now the secret was out and the Bruins now knew how hard they would have to work to reach this elite level.
Final score 3-1, Red Wings.
- Chuck Kobasew: 1 goal
- Henrik Zetterberg: 1 goal, 1 assist
- Pavel Datsyuk: 1 goal, 1 assist
- Brian Rafalski: 1 goal