SAN JOSE, California -- The Detroit Red Wings are on the road again, this time on a trip to the West Coast to face the San Jose Sharks. With just a few games left to play, the only role left for the San Jose Sharks to fill is to be the spoilers. The Red Wings are in a hot race for the top spot in the West, and cannot spare any more points this season if they wish to remain on top.
It was only last year that the San Jose Sharks were one game away from advancing to the Western Conference finals. Yet you wouldn't know it if you were to take a look at them today. Dead last in the Pacific Division with only 68 points, the Sharks have been forced to rebuild once again. Just this season, they have said goodbye to head coach Darryl Sutter, franchise player Owen Nolan, and most recently general manager Dean Lombardi.
"This season has been a struggle and clearly has not progressed as any of us expected. We feel this move is a necessary step in returning the San Jose Sharks to the postseason next year.""" President Greg Jamison
Lombardi is credited for the transformation of the Sharks in the 90's, but it seems like in the NHL, having an ugly year can cause higher-ups to have a sudden loss of memory. In the Sharks last game, the Tampa Bay Lighting got the win 4-1, which was good enough to advance them into the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
Tuesday night turned out to be a night of retribution for the surging Red Wings. Two nights after being shut out by the Wild 4-0 in Minnesota, the Red Wings returned the favor as Curtis Joseph turned away 18 shots to earn a 4-0 shutout. With a comfortable lead over the St. Louis Blues in the Central Division, the Red Wings are focused on making a run at having home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. As of right now, Detroit is lined up to face the Edmonton Oilers. Edmonton took the season series against Detroit, winning two of the four meetings and also earning a 1-1 tie. After the game against the Sharks, the Red Wings will head to St. Louis to take on the Blues.
Detroit is 3-0 against the San Jose Sharks this season, outscoring them 14-9.
-Player To Watch-
San Jose- #8 Teemu Selanne (25 goals, 35 assists). Leading the team with 60 points, Selanne appears to be one of the only Sharks left with any bite.
Detroit- #40 Henrik Zetterberg (21 goals, 19 assists). Looks to be a lock for the rookie of the year award at the end of the season. Zetterberg has been everything the Red Wings could have hoped for, and then some.
-Out or in Doubt-
San Jose- Brad Stuart D (Concussion/Out), Matt Bradley RW (Broken Wrist/Out), Mike Ricci C (Back/Questionable), Scott Thornton LW (Concussion/Out), Wayne Primeau C (Back/Questionable)
Detroit- Jiri Fischer D (Knee/Out)
-Between da Pipes-
San Jose- #20 Evgeni Nabokov (19-27-6, 2.73 GAA, .907 SV%, 3 SO), #29 Vesa Toskala (3-2-0, 2.38 GAA, .923 SV%, 0 SO)
Detroit- #31 Curtis Joseph (31-17-6, 2.53 GAA, .911 SV%, 4 SO), #34 Manny Legace (13-5-3, 2.06 GAA, .929 SV%, 0 SO)
-Most Points This Season vs. Opposition-
San Jose-Two players tied with 3 points. #18 Mike Ricci (3 assists), #25 Vincent Damphousse (2 goals, 1 assist) vs. Detroit
Detroit- #91 Sergei Federov with 6 points (4 goals, 2 assists) vs. San Jose
The game will be televised at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time on FOX BAY and locally on UPN50.