DETROIT – The Red Wings came into the game against the Bruins in position to close in on the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, setting up a matchup with Pittsburgh. If the Smith family has their preference, that’s how it will stay.
“As my little brother [Reilly] says, they would rather us come in seventh so we don’t have to see them that early,” Detroit defenseman Brenden Smith said before his club pinned a 3-2 loss on Boston. “I don’t think my parents want us to play against each other that early. They want to see us later. But it would be fun for me, for myself, just to get that eighth spot to get in would be real exciting.
“That’s all fun and games him saying, ‘Come in seventh, make sure you come in seventh. Don’t come in eighth.’ But we’re going to have so much fun playing each other anyway.”
The teams competing for the two wild-card spots are currently bunched, with five teams within four points of each other. But the Red Wings remain a possible candidate to be starting the playoffs in Boston in mid-April.
“It would be tough on our parents, but it would be real tough on Reilly and I just for the sense that we’re so competitive with each other,” Brendan said. “We’d probably get mad at each other on the ice a little bit more than we do just one game here and there. But a series is different.
“When we were younger playing in the basement we played those best-of-seven series and it got pretty nasty by the end. Mom and dad would have to call it quits on it, or [our brother] Rory would have to step in or whatnot. So I could see it turning into something like that. But until that point, it would still be amazing and a lot of fun for us.”
Asked who won the majority of those games, Reilly said, “I’d say it was pretty much 50-50, but it kind of always turned into the last goal won, and he’d always wait until he scored the last goal.’’
It was just by chance that the Bruins ended up in Detroit April 1,Reilly’s 23d birthday. But it meant that the first-year Bruin got to celebrate the occasion with his immediate family — parents and Brendan and Rory — the first time the family of professional athletes has gotten to do that since they all lived under the same roof.
Iginla sits out
Jarome Iginla was a scratch with a lower-body injury according to the Bruins. Iginla had taken part in morning skate, and there had been no indication of the injury until he was not present for warm-ups.
It was the first time Iginla had missed a game because of injury since January 2007, and the first game he has missed this season.
After the game, coach Claude Julien said Iginla was “day to day” and would have played had it been the playoffs. “[It’s] not a major injury here,” said Julien.
Jordan Caron was added to the lineup, skating with the third line. Loui Eriksson skated in Iginla’s place with Milan Lucic and David Krejci. Matt Bartkowski and Corey Potter were the scratches on defense, and Ryan Spooner did not play.
The Red Wings have had a tough season with injuries, with long stretches lost by Pavel Datsyuk (knee), Henrik Zetterberg (back surgery), Stephen Weiss (hernia), and Jonathan Ericsson (finger).
But they’ve been bolstered by young players, most notably by Gustav Nyquist, who was named the NHL’s second star of the month Tuesday. He had 12 goals and 18 points in March.
“We’ve got such great leadership in this room with Pavs and Hank being out,” Nyquist said. “[They’ve] been around for a long time and knows what it takes to get into the playoffs and go far in the playoffs. A lot of the guys in here have won the Stanley Cup before and I think a lot of us younger guys we really have learned from that.”
A plus for NESN
The Bruins-Maple Leafs game Thursday night will be broadcast on NESN Plus with the Red Sox-Orioles game on NESN . . . On Boston’s third-period power play, Patrice Bergeron was taken down by Drew Miller and spent a couple of seconds down on the ice, limping a bit when he got back up. It appeared his leg had been taken out from under him, but Bergeron said the two had simply gotten tangled. Bergeron recovered enough to get the first assist on Carl Soderberg’s goal on that same power play. “He bumped into me, but I don’t think it was anything in particular,” Bergeron said. “I think he was going for the puck and I was trying to shoot and he got my leg. Just took a few seconds to feel better and it was good.” . . . Julien put forth Mike Babcock’s name for the coach of the year award. As Julien said, “He’s certainly deserving of obviously being mentioned for the Jack Adams. We’ve seen Babs here for many years with good teams. We all know that when we have good teams you don’t get the recognition you should get to start with. He’s been overlooked because of that, and now he’s had a team where he’s had tons of challenges and he’s got them in a playoff spot. To me that’s a heck of a job from a coach.”