Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - MARCH 12: Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins turns away from Dylan Larkin #71 of the Detroit Red Wings during the first period at Little Caesars Arena on March 12, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Boston Bruins are facing a different Detroit Red Wings team on Saturday night. Detroit might actually be … good again?

Entering Friday, the Wings sat right behind the B’s in the Atlantic Division at 5-2-1. They’re off to an incredible offensive start with 35 goals, a ridiculous 4.4 per game. But they’ve also allowed 24 goals on the season, so their games have certainly been adventurous.

So, the Bruins can expect a great challenge from the Red Wings’ offense. They may be able to win this thing on the strength of their superior goaltending, but at least two Red Wings are sure to be a handful for everyone on the ice.

Here are four players to watch among the Bruins and Red Wings on Saturday at TD Garden…

  • Brad Marchand

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - FEBRUARY 15: Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins skates past Luke Glendening #41 of the Detroit Red Wings during the first period at TD Garden on February 15, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – FEBRUARY 15: Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins skates past Luke Glendening #41 of the Detroit Red Wings during the first period at TD Garden on February 15, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    Marchand remains a point-per-game player with four goals and three assists in his first seven games so far this season. And he’s a point-per-game guy against the Red Wings in his career, with 39 in 37 contests.

    It’s been better in recent years. Marchand has 29 points in his last 20 games against Detroit, dating back to 2016-17, with 12 goals and 17 assists. He’s been dangerous so far in 2023-24, especially considering that he seemingly has new linemates every shift.

    One caveat: Marchand’s production against Detroit has mostly been as a playmaker, and the guy he set up the most? Ex-teammate Patrice Bergeron. So, it’ll be interesting to see how Marchand looks with a different centerman. But the Red Wings’ defense and goaltending, and Marchand’s history, make it an enticing matchup for him.

  • Alex DeBrincat

    DETROIT, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 24: Alex DeBrincat #93 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Seattle Kraken at Little Caesars Arena on October 24, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

    DETROIT, MICHIGAN – OCTOBER 24: Alex DeBrincat #93 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Seattle Kraken at Little Caesars Arena on October 24, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

    DeBrincat is still just 25 years old and has been a legitimate goalscorer since the day he stepped into the NHL, but he’s taken his game to another level so far in his first season as a Red Wing. He has nine goals in his first eight games, as he and linemate Dylan Larkin have instantly clicked as a dynamic offensive duo.

    It wouldn’t be surprising if the Bruins deployed shutdown pair Hampus Lindholm and Brandon Carlo against the diminutive DeBrincat. But DeBrincat doesn’t need a lot of open ice to get off a good release, and he and Larkin have the speed to blow by people. So the Bruins’ defense and goalies will have to be alert with them at all times.

  • Matt Grzelcyk

    Apr 5, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Oskar Sundqvist (70) skates with the puck defended by Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (48) in the second period at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Apr 5, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Oskar Sundqvist (70) skates with the puck defended by Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (48) in the second period at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Grzelcyk has been playing well lately, and he finally cashed in on it with a 4-on-4 goal Thursday night against the Ducks. As much as the Bruins may want to use their bigger defensemen to slow down Larkin and DeBrincat, Grzelcyk would be a better option to counteract their speed. His puck retrieval and breakout abilities could catch them overcommitting to a rush.

    The Bruins may prefer Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy in more offensive situations, but if they want to make Detroit pay with their transition game, Grzelcyk is one of their top candidates to accomplish that. And he’s been excelling at that in recent days.

  • Johnny Beecher

    Sep 24, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center John Beecher (19) waits for play to begin against the New York Rangers during the third period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Sep 24, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center John Beecher (19) waits for play to begin against the New York Rangers during the third period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Now, why is the fourth-line center being highlighted? Beecher is due for his first NHL goal, especially after hitting the post on a wide-open net late in Thursday night’s overtime loss to Anaheim. And he also seems like a logical option to line up opposite Larkin, due to his size & speed combo.

    Beecher can help limit Larkin and DeBrincat by simply delivering a relentless forecheck, keeping them far away from the Bruins’ net. The fourth line is also banged up, as the B’s are without both Milan Lucic (lower body) and Jakub Lauko (face), so Beecher needs to carry that group right now. I’m expecting him to draw tough matchups and play a key role Saturday night.

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    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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