Saturday, March 17, 2012

3/17: Red Wings @ Sharks Preview

Some statistics to compare before I go into my pre-game thoughts:
Detroit: 44-24-3 (90 Points), 4th in the Western Conference, 2nd in the Central Division
San Jose: 35-25-10 (80 Points), 9th in the Western Conference, 3rd int he Pacific Division

Last 10 games:
Det: 3-6-1
SJS: 3-4-3

Detroit is coming into the game tonight in dire straights because, yes, I consider a 3-6-1 record for the Detroit Red Wings to be dire. And it's not just because of the record, or the backslide they seem to find themselves in since their glorious 23 game home streak came to an end. It's because they have been playing like shit. Even when they win, it hasn't come all that pretty. I know every win can't be pretty, but it doesn't have to be sheer dumb luck either. 

From left to right: Patrick Marleau, Joe Thorton,
Logan Couture, and Joe Pavelski 
San Jose's standings, I feel, does not reflect the level of talent that team possesses. I like to refer to them as "Red Wings West" because they have essentially tried to implement what Detroit does on the west coast. They're a good puck possession team, they have a slew of talented forwards who can make big plays and score big goals, they're pretty tenacious when it comes to two way hockey and the neutral zone, and they have a seasoned veteran who they can lean on in Joe Thorton. 

Their big forwards, as seen here, have been invaluable to the team. (I'm pretty sure this is a candid photo of pre-game ceremonies. Either that or a vague memory from my child hood). They've combined for a total of 17 points in the last 4 or 5 games the Sharks have played. The only game one of those players didn't register a point was their shutout loss to Phoenix. With that kind of scoring power, the Sharks getting shut out seems crazy. Thorton is as dangerous without the puck (6 assists during that time) as he is with it, Couture has shown to be an amazing goal scorer and can work well against the top lines in the league, despite being in only his 2nd full season. Of course, there's still Ryan Clowe and Martin Havlat to be worried about. Although to be honest, just put Kronwall on the ice and Havlat may just curl into the fetal position.
The Red Wings, meanwhile, have sprung a ton of leaks and need to plug them now. We're down to the final 10 games or so of the regular season. While I don't think they can lose themselves out of a playoff spot, it's a matter of match ups and momentum at this point. Right now, they're likely to play Nashville, and it's crucial to get home ice advantage against them come playoff time. And that doesn't even bring into account the fact that they're a single point behind us in the standings. So we have virtually no breathing room there. Last time we went to the playoffs against Nashville it was a 4-2 win on route to a Stanley Cup. We're own the season series 3 games to 2 right now, and Nashville hasn't won in Joe Louis Arena this year.

The Big Question Everyone Else is Asking: Will Pavel Datsyuk play?

It was reported yesterday that he said he was good to go. That he was planning on skating unless the knee flared up. So expect Datsyuk to be in, unless something comes up right before puck drop.

The Big Question I'm Asking: Can we not allow a fucking short handed goal this game?

I would argue all of the problems the Red Wings have going on right now can be summed up in the fact that they are one of the worst teams in the league this year when it comes to allowing short handed goals. While many people point to the Wing's PP as being anemic and lackluster (or god awful and pathetic as I usually say) when it comes to not producing goals, the bigger problem is allowing the other team to score.

There should never been an excuse for it. Ever. You should never allow a short handed goal. If you do, you should punch yourself in the dick.

Or, find someone else to do it for you
Allowing a short handed goal, besides putting you deeper in the hole, kills all momentum your team had. All the momentum and pressure your team can build up on the power play? Gone! Because someone didn't take care of their fuckin' responsibility to keep the puck in the zone and prevent this kind of thing from happening. Remember, the GWG in Philadelphia was scored by Maxine Talbot short handed. I call him Maxine because he's an ex-Penguin which automatically means he's a little girl.

Tonight is going to come down to a few things:
  • Will Datsyuk's return give the Wing's the inspiration they need to play at the level they are capable?
  • Will Franzen's likely absence mitigation the boost they'd get from Datsyuk
  • The Red Wings' ability to be responsible with the puck everywhere on the ice
  • Will someone besides Darren Helm show Darren Helm-esqe work ethic?
Final Score: Detroit 4-3 via shootout

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