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Preview: No. 2 Sharks vs. No. 3 Red Wings

Posted on: April 29, 2011 6:07 am
Edited on: April 30, 2011 2:50 am
 

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The San Jose Sharks, a franchise celebrating their 20th season in existence, often see their postseasons run through Hockeytown USA. This is their fifth postseason meeting overall and the second consecutive season the clubs have met in the second round. (The Sharks advanced in five games a season ago.) The teams have split the four playoff series overall, which stretches back to the Sharks’ seven-game upset of the Wings in 1994. But San Jose coach Todd McLellan, a former assistant with the Wings, asked not to read much into the prologue. 

“One of our biggest jobs as a coaching staff is to separate last year from this year,” McLellan told reporters this week. “We are a very different team when you look at our goaltending, the blue line and the forwards we’ll be using. That lineup will definitely be different. The circumstances are different. If we reach too far back to those experiences last year in that playoff series, we’ll be trailing before we know it.” 

Here’s the breakdown: 

Forwards: After sweeping the Phoenix Coyotes, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock and his coaching staff have experimented with different lines in practice. It’s a luxury --- now that Henrik Zetterberg , who missed the first round with a lower-body injury, is healthy --- rather than a necessity. The Wings will also have the services of playoff beast Johan Franzen, who missed the final game of the first round with an ankle injury. Pavel Datsyuk, who had injury woes of his own in the regular season, was a force in the first round with six points (two goals, four assists). Sharks captain Joe Thornton may have shed – or maybe at least shrunk --- the notion he’s an underperformer in the playoffs. He scored in OT of Game 6 as the Sharks clinched the series against the Los Angeles Kings. Hardnosed Ryane Clowe led the Sharks in scoring (seven points) in the first round. The Sharks have also gotten decent secondary scoring from Kyle Wellwood and Torrey Mitchell among others.

Edge: Sharks

Defense: Nicklas Lidstrom is, well, still Niclkas Lidstrom. This is his 19th season in the league and it might not just be a coincidence this is the Wings 20th consecutive season in the playoffs. Now that defensive partner Brian Rafalski is healthy, they’ll be the best 1-2 combo in the series. San Jose will counter with Douglas Murray and Dan Boyle. But the most productive pairing of the first round was Niclas Wallin and Ian White. White, who missed a game with a concussion, still managed to lead all Sharks defenders in scoring with five points. 

Edge: Red Wings

Goalies: Jimmy Howard was in net last season as a rookie when the Wings fell to the Sharks. Now, he doesn’t have the luxury of a tested backup since Chris Osgood is done for the year after hernia surgery. He stopped .915 percent of the shots he saw in the first round. After letting Evgeni Nabokov walk last offseason, the Sharks signed Antti Niemi. He hasn’t been on top of his game ---and nowhere close where he was when he led the Chicago Blackhawks to the title a season ago --  but he has the faith of McLellan. Niemi was yanked twice in the first round and finished the series with a horrid goals-against average (3.99) and mediocre save percentage (.863). On the plus side, Antero Niittymaki was solid in relief. 

Edge: Sharks

Special teams: The Wings had a success rate of 26.7 percent in the first round, the second-best rate among teams who made it to the second round. Detroit, however, struggled on the kill. The Wings allowed six goals on 18 shorthanded opportunities for a 66.7 kill percentage, the worst of the 16 playoff teams.  Maybe the Wings’ PK is just what the Sharks need to kick start their moribund power play. San Jose scored only twice in 23 trips to the power play (8.7 percent). San Jose got better after a shaky start on the kill against the Kings as the series progressed, highlighted by a five-minute kill that stretched from the end of regulation and into OT in Game 6. 

Edge: Red Wings 

Prediction: The Sharks are still (barely) in the stage where they are a year more experienced rather than just a year older. Niemi should be able to rebound from his shaky first-round performance and the Sharks will eventually break out of their power play malaise. The Sharks should win this in six.

No. 2 San Jose vs. No. 3 Detroit - Series tied, 0-0
Date Site Time/Result
April 29 at SJ 10 p.m.  
May 1 at SJ 3 p.m.  
May 4 at DET 8 p.m.  
May 6 at DET 7 p.m.  
* May 8 at SJ 8 p.m.  
* May 10 at DET TBA  
* May 12 at SJ TBA  


-- A.J. Perez
Comments
kkjyywlpo
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 16, 2011 4:14 pm
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Since: Apr 3, 2009
Posted on: April 29, 2011 6:03 pm
 

Preview: No. 2 Sharks vs. No.3 Red Wings

The Sharks have the edge in choking forwards, thats for sure. This is the playoffs, no team on earth has an edge on the Wings in the forward department. Lol Niemi has a 4.00GAA and some moron thinks the Sharks have the edge in goaltending. What idiot wrote this preview???



Since: Apr 3, 2009
Posted on: April 29, 2011 6:02 pm
 

Preview: No. 2 Sharks vs. No.3 Red Wings

The Sharks have the edge in choking forwards, thats for sure. This is the playoffs, no team on earth has an edge on the Wings in the forward department. Lol Niemi has a 4.00GAA and some moron thinks the Sharks have the edge in goaltending. What idiot wrote this preview???



Since: Oct 8, 2006
Posted on: April 29, 2011 1:55 pm
 

Preview: No. 2 Sharks vs. No.3 Red Wings

should be a good series



Since: Apr 18, 2008
Posted on: April 29, 2011 12:21 pm
 

Preview: No. 2 San Jose vs. No.3 Red Wings

Where is Redwing1969.  That guy is pretty good with his breakdowns.  He loves his Wings but he normally calls things pretty fair unlike most of you with Wing colored glasses.



Since: May 27, 2008
Posted on: April 29, 2011 12:08 pm
 

Preview: No. 2 San Jose vs. No.3 Red Wings

true but do realize hockey is played at 2 ends of the ice and on that note I'm sure that's why they give Detroit the edge defensively with its 182 goals from its top 6 Dmen VRS the Sharks only at 127 from its top 6 Dmen.   Also keep in mind Detroit only has 3 players that are pointless in the first round having 2 less games and the sharks has 5 pointless skaters.  and the teams are close in total point production across the board and the sharks have played 2 more games than Detroit.



Since: Oct 20, 2006
Posted on: April 29, 2011 11:31 am
 

Preview: No. 2 San Jose vs. No.3 Red Wings

UK_razy says, "What moron gives the Sharks the edge in forwards, with the Wings able to bring everyone from Datsyuk to Miller, Cleary to Franzen, Zetterberg to Fillpula..."...I would bet one reason is the points totals for the season...

Top 8 forwards for each team in points:

Detroit     - 80, 59, 55, 46, 45, 39, 37, 37
San Jose  - 73, 70, 66, 64, 62, 56, 41, 23

It's plain to see that the Sharks forwards can put the puck in the net.



Since: May 1, 2007
Posted on: April 29, 2011 10:48 am
 

Preview: No. 2 San Jose vs. No.3 Red Wings

I think that the Wings are the team to beat in the West this year and the sharks don't play enough defense to stop them. Wings in 6.



Since: May 18, 2009
Posted on: April 29, 2011 9:52 am
 

Preview: No. 2 San Jose vs. No.3 Red Wings

LoL...he gives the Edge in goal to the Sharks, even after Niemi was pulled twice. OK then. How was Howard again, ahh yes 4 and 0. Who in the hell is A.J Perez and why is he writing hockey columns. Forwards, edge goes to Detroit(14 player's scored a goal in RD 1)..not enough depth or what? Defence, I'd actually give the Edge to San Jose( their 6 D-men are underated playing down on the west coast). Goalies, like I said...Detroit and coaching would be even between both teams. San Jose in 6....more like Wings in 7.



Since: May 27, 2008
Posted on: April 29, 2011 9:19 am
 

Preview: No. 2 San Jose vs. No.3 Red Wings

I find it funny that the sharks persay have the edge in forwards area, last time i checked we are scratching a hall of famer that can still play. HMMMM  as for goal tending i dont see the edge there either, the kings are no offensive jugernaut and Niemi got undressed like a drunk prom date twice in that series and sent to the bench. Neimi better hope he plays better with 4 lines that can soce on the wings, that put up the second most total goals scored this season next to the canucks.   I see pavel making him look like a rookie, the only edge i give the sharks is in size and physical play and they better hope they can rough the wings up enough to take them out of there game or the sharks are golfing after 6 games!


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