It hasn't been a good last few days in Detroit with the Tigers getting eliminated and Jim Leyland retiring.
But some Red Wings hockey should make everyone, in the words of Phil Robertson, "happy, happy, happy."
What: San Jose Sharks at Detroit Red Wings
When: 7:30 p.m. tonight
Where: Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan
TV: Fox Sports Detroit
Records: The Red Wings are 6-3-0; the Sharks are 7-0-1
Coaches: Mike Babcock is 451-239-19-90 in his 11th season as a head coach, and 382-177-75 in his ninth season with the Red Wings. Todd McLellan is 209-92-42 in his sixth season with the Sharks
Season Series: The Red Wings went 1-1-1 aginst the Sharks last season. Two meetings were decided in a shootout, and four of the last five meetings have been decided by one goal.
Projected Lineups (these have changed a LOT):
|Henrik Zetterberg||Pavel Datsyuk||Justin Abdelkader|
|Todd Bertuzzi||Johan Franzen||Daniel Alfredsson|
|Daniel Cleary||Stephen Weiss||Tomas Tatar|
|Drew Miller||Joakim Andersson||Jordin Tootoo|
|Kyle Quincey||Danny DeKeyser|
|Brian Lashoff||Jakub Kindl|
|Brendan Smith||Xavier Ouellet|
|Tomas Hertl||Joe Thornton||Freddie Hamilton|
|Tyler Kennedy||Logan Couture||Patrick Marleau|
|Matt Nieto||Joe Pavelski||Tommy Wingels|
|James Sheppard||Andrew Desjardins||John McCarthy|
|Marc-Edouard Vlasic||Justin Braun|
|Matt Irwin||Brad Stuart|
|Scott Hannan||Jason Demers|
Red Wings Update: The Wings came back down to earth on Saturday, as they lost to the Phoenix Coyotes 5-2. Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi each scored a goal. Babcock has done some lineup shuffling to match the Sharks better (more on that later). Henrik Zetterberg (11 points–6 goals, 5 assists) and Datsyuk (11 points–5 goals, 6 assists) continue to have the hot hand for the Wings. Niklas Kronwall (concussion), Jonathan Ericsson (paternity leave), and Patrick Eaves (knee) are all out. Darren Helm has been recalled following a rehab stint. The team also recalled Xavier Ouellet from Grand Rapids.
Sharks Update: The Sharks aren't just winning games, they are winning with authority as they lead the league with a plus-23 goal differential, and have yet to lose in regulation. The most recent outing was a 6-3 thrashing of the Calgary Flames on Saturday. Joe Pavelski led the way with two goals. Patrick Marleau and rookie Tomas Hertl lead the team in goals scored with seven a piece, and Pavelski leads in scoring with 12 points. The Sharks have dealt with plenty of injuries, as Brent Burns (jaw), Dan Boyle (concussion), Martin Havlat (hip), Adam Burish (back), and Raffi Torres (knee) are all out. Freddie Hamilton and John McCarthy were both recalled from the team's AHL affiliate to play tonight.
What to Watch For:
Line Dance: Both teams have done a lot of line shuffling, mostly for matchup purposes. Babcock has moved Johan Franzen to second-line center, where he will be flanked by Bertuzzi and Daniel Alfredsson. Stephen Weiss and Joakim Andersson have dropped to third and fourth line center respectfully. Justin Abdelakder is back on the top line, and Tomas Tatar is back in the lineup. The Sharks have moved Tyler Kennedy to second-line wing, and Pavelski from first-line wing to third-line center. The latter always seems to happen whenever the Sharks play the Wings (more on that later).
New Kids on the Block: Ouellet and Hamilton will make their NHL
debuts tonight for their respective teams. Ouellet will be paired with Brendan Smith on the blue line, while Hamilton will play on the first line with Joe Thornton and Hertl.
Troublesome Waters: If there is one team that the Red Wings fans fear, it's the Sharks. Thornton, Marleau, and Pavelski have killed the Wings in their careers, and netminder Antti Niemi has had success against the Wings. In fact, Marleau and Pavelski have combined for eight game winning goals against the Wings. Zetterberg has been a pain for the Sharks, as he has 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) in 37 games, while Alfie has 14 points (5 goals, 9 assists) in 15 games.
Defense from DeKeyser: Danny DeKeyser has played well as the Wings' top defenseman since Kronwall went down. He will have his hands full trying to shut down the Sharks top lines. Kyle Quincey will take Ericsson's spot next to DeKeyser.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Hertl: Since scoring four goals in a win over the New York Rangers, Hertl has generated a lot of attention. The 19-year-old Czech Republic native has taken the league by storm since his game against the Rangers.
Prediction: This is probably the best team the Sharks have put together in franchise history. They are probably better than what the Blackhawks were last year. While a regulation loss will come at some point, it won't come tonight against a Red Wings blue line that is mostly patchwork. This one could get ugly quick.
Make It: Sharks 5, Red Wings 2.
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