Update (6:10 PM): George Sipple reports that it looks like there will be a roster change for the Sharks tonight: Joe Pavelski back in for Mark Bell.
Pavelski was in the lineup for the Sharks’ Game 1 win, but was benched in favor of Bell for Game 2, a San Jose loss. Bell has had hip and groin problems and the team can’t afford to wait for him to get going when they have a fully healthy player available.
This will make it somewhat more difficult for the Wings to do what they need to do tonight. – Matt
Update (3:45 PM): Good news: Bruce MacLeod reports that Tomas Holmstrom has been cleared to play in Game 4 on Wednesday after seeing an eye specialist today. He’ll fly out to San Jose with the Illitches today and will practice tomorrow. It’s not a guarantee that he’ll play Wednesday, but if there aren’t any further complications with his eye, he will.
MacLeod also reports that Henrik Zetterberg skated today, so his “flu” is apparently gone. – Matt
Update (1:55 PM): Officials for tonight: Kevin Pollack and Rob Shick will do the refereeing and Pierre Racicot and Derek Amell will man the lines. (via NHL Media). – Matt
Tonight is Game 3 of the Wings’ Western Conference Semifinal series with the San Jose Sharks. The series is tied at 1.
The Sharks are returning to their own rink with home-ice advantage for the remainder of the series. However, they only keep that advantage if they don’t lose in the Tank. They let one get away on Saturday and need to reassert themselves tonight with a win. Some keys to the game:
- Fast start. If you haven’t noticed, three of the Sharks’ four goals in this series have been scored in the first ten minutes. The fourth goal was scored at 10:09. The Wings have shown themselves to be vulnerable early in the game and San Jose needs to continue to exploit that.
- Press a lead. If the Sharks do jump out to an early lead, they cannot sit back and be satisfied. They need to continue to press the attack and not allow the Wings a chance to get back into the game.
- Funnel defense. Keeping the Wings to the outside will go a long way in preventing Detroit goals. They big bodies and can do this fairly easily. They can’t allow a repeat of Pavel Datsyuk’s game winner, not with the big rebounds Evgeni Nabokov gives up.
The Wings saved their season with a comeback win on Saturday and now have a chance to take control of the series. They need a win in San Jose to regain home ice and tonight is as good a time as any to do it. Some keys to the game:
- Start sharp. If they start out as flat as they have in both games, they’ll be hard pressed to produce a repeat of Game 2’s comeback. They need to be the team setting the tone early.
- Special teams. They killed off six penalties on Saturday, and need to continue to be great on the PK, but the power play has to improve.
- Dominik Hasek. Dom needs to be stellar tonight. None of that wandering-and-losing-the-puck crap and no weak goals. It is because of games like these that he is wearing the Winged Wheel rather than reminiscing over his NHL exploits in a mansion in Czechoslovakia. The Wings brought him back to win the big games and every game from here on out is a big game.
It looks like Todd Bertuzzi will be on the top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. I like the sound of that. I also like the fact that Valtteri Filppula has been promoted at Robert Lang’s expense. I just hope that Lang’s dead weight doesn’t become a problem in the lockerroom.
Anyway, it’s a big game tonight, like they all are now. I guess a key for both teams is to play mistake-free hockey as much as possible. Already this series has been marred by enormous gaffes and because of that, it hasn’t lived up to its billing as “the series to remember.” Let’s hope for some cleaner hockey tonight.
Dave has a great rundown of the various gameday articles.