Sharks Enjoy “Spoiler” Role

The Red Wings slipped back to second seed in the Western Conference standings with a 3-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks.

The game got off to a slow start for Detroit, while the Sharks came out to play with a great deal of energy. The Red Wings had to kill off 1:47 of a five-on-three penalty when both Sergei Fedorov and Nicklas Lidstrom were sent out for high sticking in quick succession. Chris Chelios, Kirk Maltby, and Kris Draper did an excellent job protecting Curtis Joseph. Maltby and Draper aggressively challenged any San Jose skater who had the puck, and Chelios stayed low to help Joseph defend the net.

The Red Wings’ best scoring chance of the first period came just as the five-on-three ended. They used the momentum they had gained through the successful penalty kill to head up ice and challenge young goaltender Vesa Toskala. Toskala made the necessary saves, and the Sharks regained control.

Patrick Marleau put the Sharks on the scoreboard midway through the first period. Kyle MacLaren forced a turnover at center ice, and missed defensive coverages by the Red Wings allowed Marleau to skate in on Joseph on an almost-breakaway. Marleau put the shot in high for the goal.

The Sharks did a good job through the second period of breaking up the Red Wings’ passing plays and keeping them from setting up many good scoring chances against Toskala. San Jose increased the lead to two near the end of the second. The puck was shot deep into the Red Wings’ zone. It bounced off a stanchion and right to the stick of Adam Graves. Graves made a good pass to Mark Smith, who stuffed the puck into the net.

Detroit made a decent attempt to come back in the third period, but Toskala was always in just the perfect position to stop the first shots, and he didn’t allow any rebounds to slip free. The Red Wings’ bench pulled Joseph out of the net with 2:01 left to play. The six skaters attempted to score on Toskala, but the Sharks managed to clear the puck out of the zone, and Lynn Loyns tipped a shot by Alyn McCauley into the empty net.

The final count of shots on net was 25-17 in Detroit’s favor. The Red Wings’ next game will be Saturday afternoon against the St. Louis Blues.

It was announced during the game that earlier today, Brett Hull signed a one-year, $5 million contract extension with Detroit. If he had scored a total of 35 this season (he has 33 now), he would have automatically received a $4.5 million one-year extension, but apparently the Red Wings decided not to wait. And why should they? How can you have a Two Kids and an Old Goat Line without Detroit’s favorite Old Goat?

Detroit in No Need of a Bigger Boat

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.

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