Detroit (32-16-6) at Boston (31-16-7)

By MIKE LIPKA, STATS Editor Thursday, Feb 10, 2011 Puck Drop: 7:00 pm EST Fri Feb 11, 2011

It’s been more than 15 months since the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings last faced off, but the division-leading Original Six rivals will get plenty familiar by the end of the weekend.

The Red Wings hope they can show the NHL’s stingiest defensive team a more potent attack than they’ve had lately when they begin a rare interconference home-and-home set Friday night in Boston.

Detroit (32-16-6) has totaled four goals in its last four games - half as many as the suddenly prolific Bruins scored in their last contest alone.

While Boston (31-16-7) leads the league with a 2.22 goals-against average, it spent much of the season’s first half struggling to find consistency on offense. That has changed lately, with the Bruins scoring six or more goals six times in their last 13 games, including an 8-6 win over rival Montreal on Wednesday.

The biggest contributors were top-line forwards Milan Lucic(notes), David Krejci(notes) and Nathan Horton(notes), who combined for three goals and eight assists.

“We knew we had to be a threat every time we were on the ice. That’s kind what we talked about as a line (Wednesday),” said Lucic, who scored twice to boost his team-leading goal total to 23. “It’s definitely great that we had a game the way that we did, but we’ve got to build on that and keep pushing.”

It remains to be seen whether the Bruins will also keep punching after they and the Canadiens combined for 182 penalty minutes. Boston has racked up 152 - including 11 fighting majors - in the first three games of its homestand.

The Red Wings, 29th in the league in penalty minutes, will likely be more concerned with scoring. Although Detroit ranks third in the NHL in goals, it suffered consecutive shutout losses last weekend.

The Wings beat the Rangers 3-2 on Monday, but coach Mike Babcock was not pleased following Wednesday’s 4-1 defeat to Nashville.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable to compete like we did,” he said. “We’re awful. … The coach ain’t getting the job done and neither are 22 players.”

Pavel Datsyuk(notes) had a goal and an assist against New York in his return from a 19-game absence due to a broken hand, but was held off the scoresheet Wednesday.

Henrik Zetterberg(notes) has no goals and one assist in the last four games and Johan Franzen(notes) has been held without a point in four straight since scoring five goals in a Feb. 2 win over Ottawa.

Bruins coach Claude Julien is expecting more from the Red Wings.

“You don’t see them that often, but I think we have a pretty good idea of what they’re all about, what they’re capable of doing,” Julien said. “I know they’re very unhappy with the way things have gone for them lately, and I have a feeling they’re going to come with their best.”

The goaltending matchup remains uncertain, especially after Detroit’s Jimmy Howard(notes) allowed four goals on 16 shots Wednesday, getting replaced by Joey MacDonald(notes). Howard has never faced Boston, but he has good memories of TD Garden, where he stopped 179 of 184 shots and posted a 0.80 GAA in five games with the University of Maine.

Boston’s Tim Thomas(notes) still leads the NHL with a 1.91 GAA despite allowing a season-high six goals against Montreal - a game in which he halfheartedly fought counterpart Carey Price(notes). Julien may opt to start the Michigan native Sunday in Detroit and play backup Tuukka Rask(notes) on Friday.

The Red Wings won the most recent meeting 2-0 at home Nov. 3, 2009.

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Friday, Feb 11