Postgame Thoughts: Red Wings @ Sharks – Game Five

Before Tomas Holmstrom tipped Nicklas Lidstrom‘s shot past Antti Niemi to give the Red Wings a 4-3 lead over the Sharks tonight, I said, “Even if the Wings lose this one, they did something that’ll matter in the next round: They drew blood.”

In this series, San Jose has looked nearly invincible. Even Detroit’s Game Four win included a three-goal comeback by the Sharks. Tonight, it was the Wings making the comeback, rallying from down two in the third period to get the win and force Game Six at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday.

The Red Wings didn’t play their best game by any means. They might not have even played a better game than the Sharks. They ground this one out, though, finding the gaps in the Sharks’ play and making things happen out of nothing.

Dan Cleary‘s game tying goal? All about not giving up on a loose puck at the side of the net.

The game winner? Holy hell, what more could Pavel Datsyuk do to set that one up? And his wrist is supposed to be hurt? One of three assists on the night.

Jimmy Howard. Thirty-nine saves. He’s the reason the Wings had a chance to win in the first place.

The series just got interesting. If you subscribe to the “hold serve at home” theory, this was supposed to be at 3-2 headed back to Detroit for Game Six. For all intents and purposes, the fact that the Wings dropped the first three games is moot at this point.

Tuesday will bring new challenges but this weekend the Wings did everything they had to in making up lost ground.

Pregame Notes: Red Wings @ Sharks – Game Five

The Detroit Red Wings face elimination again tonight as they visit the San Jose Sharks in Game Five of their Western Conference Semifinal matchup.

With a win, the Sharks will eliminate the Red Wings on the anniversary of the same accomplishment last season.

The Red Wings played their best game of the series to stay alive on Friday night but still suffered a let down in the second period and allowed the Sharks to come back. They’re going to need an even stronger game with San Jose looking to finish the series off at home.

No lineup changes are expected for either team.

Game time is 8:00 with TV coverage by Versus. I’ll probably miss the start of this one as I’ve got to head out of town to do Mother’s Day with the in-laws and won’t be back in time, but the fancy new forums are open for everyone else.

Helm’s Late Goal Keeps Red Wings Alive Against Sharks

Darren Helm scored with 1:27 remaining in regulation Friday night, giving the Detroit Red Wings a 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks and forcing a Game Five in their Western Conference Semifinal series.

The Sharks lead the series, 3-1, and could have finished the Red Wings off in Game Four.

After a faceoff in the San Jose end, Brian Rafalski held the puck in and fired a shot on goal from the right point. Sharks goalie Antti Niemi made the stop but the rebound came out to Patrick Eaves in the right faceoff circle, who pushed it across to Helm in the left circle for a wrister past Niemi.

The tally made up for a first-period turnover by Helm, leading to San Jose’s first goal and the start of a comeback after Detroit took a 3-0 lead in the first period.

With 1:44 left in the first, just 15 seconds after the Red Wings extended their early lead to 3-0, Helm turned the puck over to Ryane Clowe at the Detroit blue line. Clowe carried the puck down low along the left wing boards and threw it on net. Logan Couture got a piece of it on the way through and it trickled through Jimmy Howard‘s pads to make it 3-1.

Dan Boyle pulled the Sharks to within a single goal with 6:16 remaining in the second, slipping past Jiri Hudler into the right circle all alone, then taking a pass from Kyle Wellwood and snapping a shot past Howard.

Just 1:14 into the third, Dany Heatley beat Howard from the top of the crease off a pass from Clowe to complete the comeback, but the Sharks would be unable to pull ahead.

Todd Bertuzzi had opened the game’s scoring at 6:22 of the first. Bertuzzi carried the puck into the San Jose zone and spun around Heatley at the top of the left circle before backhanding a shot that deflected and fluttered past Niemi.

Nicklas Lidstrom made it 2-0 with 8:51 left in the period, blasting the rebound of a Danny Cleary shot by Niemi.

Lidstrom’s second of the night made it 3-0 with 1:59 left in the opening frame. In the closing seconds of a Detroit power play, Henrik Zetterberg pulled the puck out of a scramble around the front of the net and brought it to the left circle. He sent a high pass out to Lidstrom in the right circle, who knocked it down off his knee and then whacked a shot out of mid-air on Niemi. The puck bounced off the ice and skipped past the San Jose goalie.

Lidstrom’s second was the lone power play goal of the night. Detroit had four tries with the extra attacker while San Jose had two.

Niemi made 36 saves on 40 shots on the night. Howard stopped 25 of 28 shots.

The two teams will meet in San Jose for Game Five on Sunday.

Mike Modano, Drew Miller and Jakub Kindl were the healthy scratches for the Red Wings.

Pregame Notes: Sharks @ Red Wings – Game Four

I’m not going to lie, there’s a part of me that kind of hopes that – if the Red Wings are going to lose this series – they just drop Game Four tonight and get it over with.

I still firmly believe Detroit *can* win this series. When they’ve been on, they’ve had no problem competing with the Sharks. They played well enough to win Game Three. Yes, they slowed down in the third but I think that was the first time all series that San Jose got outplayed.

The problem is the Wings haven’t been on enough. Even if they flip the switch, the Sharks will attempt to counter. So I think this Detroit team can win the series but, rationally, I don’t expect it to happen. And if it’s not going to happen, I don’t want to be jerked around anymore.

I’ll admit that I’ve got a little bit of morbid curiosity about what would happen if the Wings lost a series at home. Aside from 2009, when Pittsburgh won the Cup at Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wings haven’t finished off a losing series in Detroit since 1999. Since then, the trend of teams saluting their fans at season’s end has sprung up. I’ve never seen the Red Wings do it and I wonder if they would given a prime opportunity.

As far as the actual game goes… No lineup changes for Detroit. I don’t know how I feel about not putting Mike Modano in, seems like his scoring potential would be nice right now. That said, the Game Three lineup was pretty solid so maybe there isn’t a need to shake it up.

Game time is 7:00 on Versus.

Red Wings Down 0-3 in Series with Sharks after OT Loss

For the second consecutive postseason, the Detroit Red Wings blew a third-period lead in Game Three of a Western Conference Semifinal matchup with the San Jose Sharks, falling in overtime and dropping to 0-3 in the series.

Last season, Patrick Marleau scored in overtime to give the Sharks a 3-0 series lead. Tonight it was Devon Setoguchi completing the hat trick to give San Jose a 4-3 win.

Joe Thornton gained the Detroit zone down the right wing and stepped around defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, slowing up to drop a pass to the top of the right faceoff circle. Setoguchi got to the puck and flung a shot that deflected off the stick of Henrik Zetterberg and past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard at 9:21 of the extra frame.

Dan Boyle had tied the game up with 4:08 remaining, pinching in to the slot and taking a blind backhand pass from Kyle Wellwood, snapping the puck past Howard.

Setoguchi had opened the game’s scoring with 7:03 left in the opening period. With San Jose on the power play, Joe Pavelski‘s shot went off the glass and bounced to Thornton. Thornton threw it to the front of the net highm with Setoguchi knocking it down into his skates and then whacking it into the net.

Nicklas Lidstrom tied things up, getting Detroit on the board with a power play goal of their own. With 22 seconds left in the first, the Sharks were scrambling in their own zone. Henrik Zetterberg got the puck in the left faceoff circle and sent a between-the-legs pass to Lidstrom for a one-timer from the slot past the sprawling Antti Niemi.

Patrick Eaves made it 2-1 with 6:01 left in the second period, backhanding a loose puck into the open side of the net after Darren Helm lost it on a wraparound attempt.

Setoguchi’s second tied things back up just 50 seconds later. On another San Jose power play, Setoguchi’s stick broke on a one-timer from the left circle but the off-speed shot slid past Howard, who was moving laterally to cut off the expected hard shot.

Pavel Datsyuk put Detroit back out in front with 1:43 left in the middle period, snapping a shot from the left circle past Niemi.

Each team scored twice on four power play tries on the night.

Howard stopped 34 of the 38 shots he faced while Niemi made 38 saves on 41 shots.

Game Four will be Friday night in Detroit.

Kris Draper was inserted into the Detroit lineup, replacing Drew Miller.

Pregame Notes: Sharks @ Red Wings – Game Three

I’m going to make a prediction. I never make predictions out of superstition but this time I’m breaking that rule.

If the Red Wings win Game Three and Game Four, they’ll win this series.

No, Detroit has not played well in the first two games against the Sharks. Yes, Jimmy Howard has had to bail them out a bit. That said, San Jose hasn’t been spectacular either.

Antti Niemi has allowed only two goals but I’m not sure he’s had to face a shot off a rebound all series. San Jose has scored a power play goal, a goal that may have well been a power play goal (that also came on a bounce off a defenseman), another PPG, and a goal off a fluky bounce.

The Sharks are definitely controlling the puck but they haven’t been dominant, either.

Detroit has shown at times that they can flip the switch. If they do it tonight, this is an entirely different series.

There don’t appear to be any lineup changes for San Jose. For the Wings, Drew Miller is out in favor of Kris Draper.

Game time is 8:00. TV is weird for this one; FSD locally with Versus joining the game in progress after the Bruins and Flyers. Center Ice and GCL will have the game in full, supposedly for free.

Red Wings Drop Game Two to Sharks

The Detroit Red Wings dropped to 0-2 in their Western Conference Semifinal matchup with the San Jose Sharks Sunday afternoon after a 2-1 loss in Game Two of the series.

The Red Wings failed to get any sustained pressure until a power play late in the game.

Henrik Zetterberg scored with 6:02 remaining in regulation, beating goaltender Antti Niemi from the slot off a feed from Pavel Datsyuk. The goal got the Red Wings on the board but despite a late push, wouldn’t be enough.

Ian White had opened the game’s scoring just 4:54 into the game, blasting a shot from the high slot past a screened Jimmy Howard for a power play goal.

Niclas Wallin extended the San Jose lead at 1:39 of the third period when his shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went off of Howard’s shoulder and flipped into the net.

The Sharks carried play for most of the game, with Detroit relying on Howard to keep them in it. Howard made 35 saves on 37 shots while Niemi stopped 33 of 34 chances.

Each team scored a power play goal. The Red Wings had six tries with the extra attacker and San Jose had five.

The teams will meet for Game Three in Detroit on Wednesday.

Postgame Thoughts: Red Wings @ Sharks – Game Two

I started to write a long post about the Red Wings only putting in five minutes of effort and how it reminded me of Game Seven of the 2009 Finals and how much that pissed me off. Then I realized that I was probably putting more effort into writing that up than the team actually gave in the game itself. To hell with that.

At the start of Game One and the end of Game Two, this team showed that they can be better than the San Jose Sharks. The problem is that in between those times, they’ve played like they haven’t cared to.

If today’s game were a home game, the Wings would have deserved to get booed off the ice. Their lack of effort should offend fans and they deserve to lose this series if they don’t turn it around.

I firmly believe they can turn it around. This isn’t over by a long shot. They’re just going to have to decide which way they want to play.

Pregame Notes: Red Wings @ Sharks – 5/1

It’s not quite a must-win for the Red Wings as they take on the Sharks this afternoon but it’s close. A win here means a split in San Jose and turning this series into five games with Detroit having home ice. A loss means they go home needing to hold serve at Joe Louis Arena.

Mike Babcock says the Wings will need the puck more today. Kinda hard to argue with that.

The Wings got on their heels in Game One after an early lead. They need to stay on top of things today, not just getting an early lead but extending it. Not letting up.

There may be a roster change for Detroit but that’s not confirmed yet. Drew Miller could be swapped for Mike Modano or Kris Draper. Everything else stays the same, including the lines that feature Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk playing together.

Start time is 3:00 on NBC.

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