… Tonight is the third of four meetings between these two teams this season. The series is tied 1-1, with the Sharks winning the opener Oct. 30 and the Wings coming back with a commanding win on Dec. 18. The series finale is Feb. 25 in Detroit.Â
… After a torrid start, the Sharks have somewhat come back to earth in recent weeks. They are 7-2-2 since losing to the Wings last month and are 4-2-0 since the New Year.
…. They seem to have met their match in the Calgary Flames, who have beaten them twice in regulation in the past two weeks, including Thursday’s game in San Jose. That was their first regulation loss at home all season.Â
… San Jose have to be looking to this game as a chance for some payback after the 6-0 drubbing, but the players suggest they see this as more of a measuring stick game due to the Wings’ status as the defending champions.
The Cup is certainly weighing on the minds of the members of this franchise, and another win over the Wings would be a major confidence boost. They’ll be at their best tonight, to be sure.Â
… Evgeni Nabokov should be the starter tonight.Â
… Former Avalanche and King defenseman Rob Blake will miss the game due to an unspecified injury suffered Thursday night when he took a deflected Dion Phaneuf shot off his face. Blake has rejuvenated his career with a strong season for the Sharks and has helped their blueline become one of the strongest in the league. He’s expected to miss only two games.Â
… Read this piece on Patrick Marleau and try not to gag. One or two seasons of real leadership on Marleau’s part does not make him comparable to Yzerman, however similar their styles may be.Â
… The Wings are 10-1-2 since Dec. 18 and now stand just one point back of the Sharks, who’ll finish tonight with a game in hand.Â
… Chris Osgood will be in net tonight. It’s his first against the Sharks this year.Â
… The “Dads Trip” begins today, so here’s hoping that won’t be a distraction.
… As Helene St. James astutely points out, the Wings and Sharks both had a day off between games this time around. At the first meeting, Detroit had played the night before, and at the second, the Sharks had. Theoretically, the day off should level the playing field (surface?).Â
… George Malik’s got a good collection of quotes from both sides here.Â
Both teams are saying all the right things: San Jose is deferring to the Wings as the class of the league and not talking big, while Detroit is talking this regular season matchup down in favor of the playoffs. That’s somewhat boring from a hype perspective, but to me it highlights the quality of both organizations. There’s no denying that two of the best are facing off tonight.
… Admin note: I hope you like the new banner. I purposely placed the title and description over OtW in-house unfavorite Mark Hartigan’s face.