San Jose Sharks vs Detroit Red Wings pregame analysis
Hot on the heels of drowning out the Calgary Flames, the San Jose Sharks will head to Joe Louis Arena to take on the Detroit Red Wings. At one point this one a budding rivalry between two Western Conference superpowers. Now it’s a contest between two of the best squads in the league, with the Wings now members of the Eastern Conference (weird).
This is the beginning of a five-game road trip for San Jose. They did exactly what they were supposed to do with a friendly first two weeks, and need to continue to build on that momentum away from the Shark Tank. Suddenly going 1-3-1 on this trip will pretty much make all of the former dominating performances for nothing, and no one wants to see a repeat of 2013.
Avoiding regression begins tonight, and no one should be expecting the Wings to give any quarter.
Detroit had some shaky performances early, but have juggled their lines and now roll three top-end trios that can do damage if they’re allowed time and space. This should be one of the better and more entertaining games of this young season and shouldn’t be missed. Get your Ti-Vos ready!
Game Number: 9
Opponent: Detroit Red Wings
Opponent Record (Last 10): 6-3-0 (One game losing streak)
Offense: Hot (Eight goals in last three games)
Defense: Cold (Gave up eight goals in last three games, gave up five goals against Phoenix Coyotes)
Power Play: Warm (21.4% conversion rate—10th in the NHL)
Penalty Kill: Warm (82.9%—12th in the NHL)
Players to Watch
The players to watch for the Wings haven’t changed a whole lot over the last few years. The complimentary pieces continue to shift around, but Pavel Datsyuk is still making defenders look silly and Henrik Zetterberg is still a hound in all three zones.
One thing to keep in mind while watching this game: No. 11 is no longer Dan Cleary.
It’s Daniel Alfredsson, who possesses a bit more talent than Mr. Cleary. This will happen to you at least once tonight: You’ll see No. 11 fire off a 253 mile-per-hour slap shot on the power play and wonder whether or not Cleary started taking steroids. He hasn’t. He just was a classy guy and gave his sweater number to Alfredsson when he landed in Detroit after 17 years with the Ottawa Senators.
The Wings will be without their top defender, as it looks like Niklas Kronwall won’t be cleared in time to take on the Sharks. Without the infamous Kronwaller on board, Detroit’s defense looks pretty ordinary.
The Wings were icing one of the hottest goalies in the NHL last week. It wasn’t Jimmy Howard though. It was NHL.com’s No. 1 star for the week, Jonas Gustavsson. The Sharks might be lucking out here, as it will be Howard back in net after missing three games with a bruise to his catching hand.
He’ll be cold, and icing a goalie that hand’t played in a while didn’t seem to work out too well for the Flames. Howard is no Karri Ramo though, and will likely be fired up to get his head back in the game against the strongest offense in the league.
In net for the Sharks…? Do we still have to say it?