Jimmy Howard makes a save during the Red Wings' 5-2 win over the Flyers on Sunday. (Carlos Osorio / Associated Press)
Detroit — This Detroit vs. Boston matchup doesn’t carry as much importance right now as the other one does.
But today’s Columbus Day matinee at TD Garden is an opportunity for the Red Wings to rectify what was an ugly 4-1 loss during the opening weekend of the season.
To call it payback would be an overstatement. Let’s just say the Red Wings want to show they’re a much better team than what they showed last time, against the defending Eastern Conference championship team that appears capable of defending that title.
“Let’s get started on time and play the way we’re capable of,” coach Mike Babcock said. “That’s our priority.”
The Red Wings were playing their third game in four nights the first trip into Boston and their lack of energy was evident.
After a good start by the Red Wings, the Bruins carried the rest of the game without much opposition.
Both teams are entering this game with a day off, which should make for a more equal test in front of what should be an excitable crowd.
“We know it’s a big test on the road,” forward Jordin Tootoo said. “We’re playing in a barn that’s pretty intimidating but for us it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Special teams will be a key area to watch. Last game Boston was two-for-four on the power play while killing two Red Wings power plays.
What makes the Bruins power play dangerous is the puck moving of defenseman Torey Krug (Livonia, Michigan State) and 6-foot-9 net-front presence Zdeno Chara.
Both scored a power play goal against the Red Wings last time out, with Chara’s presence a unique problem.
“He’s too big to move, so we have to knock down pucks and make sure we’re in the lanes,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “If the puck gets through, (goalie) Jimmy (Howard) won’t get to see a lot of it.
“He’s (Chara) a very good player, a smart player, obviously huge and very strong and creates a lot of space for the guys around him.”
The Red Wings scored three power-play goals Saturday in their 5-2 win over Philadelphia — their first three power-play goals of the season — and are hoping they’ve cured the early season struggles the unit had.
Forward Todd Bertuzzi had one power-play goal and supplied net-front presence on the other two, supplying a needed spark.
“He was great for us,” Kronwall said. “Not just on the power play, but in the game in general. On the power play, he scored one and was a big reason for the other two (goals) because the goalie didn’t see anything.”
Said Babcock: “Once we scored, we settled down and had a good power play, with motion and retrievals. But Boston is a different story. They pressure you, win faceoffs, get after you and make it tough. We have to handle their pressure, and it’s a different kind of pressure than Philadelphia’s. It’ll be interesting.”
Tootoo had no lingering problems for the two-hand slash to the back of the leg he received in the final moments Saturday from Philadelphia’sKris Newbury.
“More of a stinger than anything,” Tootoo said. “It caught the right nerve, I guess. Other than that, it just flared up a little bit.”
What made the incident puzzling was that Tootoo has no previous history with Newbury.
“No clue who he is, no clue,” Tootoo said. “From what I’ve heard, not so much (surprising). It’s the way he plays, I guess. It’s just uncalled for. You have your back to him, it’s a gutless play.
“We got the two points and part of being a team player is sacrificing and that’s what it’s all about.”
If forward Daniel Alfredsson was going to leave Ottawa last summer it was only going to be to join the Red Wings or Bruins.
Ultimately he chose the Red Wings, but Alfredsson has plenty of respect for the Bruins, too.
“Those are the two teams I talked to the day before I made the decision (to come to the Red Wings),” Alfredsson said. “I do have a tremendous amount of respect for both organizations and it was not an easy choice.”