Update (1:53 PM): It is Nittymaki. – Matt
… This is the first meeting between these two teams since the Sharks knocked the Wings out of the playoffs.
… The San Jose Mercury News issues what could be fighting words for the Wings, if they were the type of team to let this kind of crap bother them:
In May, after the Red Wings were unceremoniously booted by the Sharks in a second-round playoff series, there was talk about how their era of domination might finally be coming to a close.
Putting aside the “unceremoniously” lie, just ponder that last statement. Has there ever been a playoff loss that has not been followed by questions about the Wings’ era ending? Has that era yet ended? You’d think people would learn to not only stop asking but to stop being so surprised when the answer keeps coming up “no.” This “omg can you believe it, the Wings have the best record in the West! Stunned.” crap should end.
… The Sharks are 11-7-4 and looking up at three teams in their division (Dallas, Phoenix and Anaheim).
… They’ve won just two of their last six, including their most recent game, a 4-3 decision over Edmonton. The night before, however, they were thumped pretty hard by Vancouver, 6-1.
… The Sharks’ offense prior to last week’s 5-2 win over Chicago was having some trouble finding the back of the net. They had just 50 goals through 19 games (the Wings had 67). They’ve since scored 15 goals to bring their total up to 65. But they’re still only 12th in goals per game and there’s always a chance they’ll fall back to the pace they were at. That or they could continue to rack up goals. Here’s hoping it’s the former.
… The Sharks will be without Niclas Wallin, Kent Huskins, Devin Setoguchi and Jason Demers tonight. Scott Nichol, however, is expected to be in the lineup.
… LeftWingLock has Nittymaki starting this one, but it’s also possible Antti Niemi will get the nod.
… The Wings are coming off a miniseries sweep of the Jackets and are first in the West at 15-4-2. They’re kicking off a three-stop road trip to the other California NHL cities.
… The big loss this weekend was that of Mike Modano to a sliced wrist. He talked with Helene St. James for the read of the day.
… The forward corps for tonight should look like this, per the Freep:
The D, presumably, will look the same as it did Sunday.
… Draper’s close to returning, but not there yet.
… Jimmy Howard gets another start, but may actually be backed up by Chris Osgood, who’s finally nearly over his groin injury.
… The Wings have plenty of reason to play looking for revenge tonight, but they need to just focus on winning. They’d be better off settling in and focusing on doing their jobs as efficiently as possible than on taking it to the Sharks.
Either way, though, dismantle them, guys.