The Detroit Red Wings (9-8-3) visit the Shark Tank to face San Jose (9-6-3) in a battle between two struggling Western Conference powerhouses. This will be the first matchup of three between these two teams this season.
The Sharks are coming off of a shootout win against the Avalanche on home ice on Tuesday while Detroit is on the latter half of a back-to-back. They lost last night in Los Angeles to the Kings by the final of 2-1 and will be looking to get back on track against the Sharks.
The news prior to today’s game is that San Jose winger Ryane Clowe will be back in the lineup for the Sharks after serving his second game of a two-game suspension when he hopped onto the ice during an altercation. He will most likely be slotted onto the third line after he practiced with them on Wednesday.
Also, as an update, defenseman Brent Burns is still on the injured reserve for the Sharks with a lower body injury’ and has no timetable for return.
Detroit has been battling injuries of their own with guys like Todd Bertuzzi, Mikael Samuelsson, Darren Helm, and Valtteri Filppula out of the lineup for them.
The Red Wings are led by none other than Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. Zetterberg has six goals and 19 assists on the season for a total 25 points. He ranks third in the NHL in assists and fifth in the league in total points. Teammate Datsyuk is ranked twelfth in the league with 22 points which includes eight goals and 14 assists.
Swiss centerman Damien Brunner leads the team in goals this season with 10 to go along with six assists for 16 total points.
San Jose’s Patrick Marleau is now only two goals off the league-leading pace with 12 on the season. Overall he is fifth in the league in that category. The Sharks top centerman Joe Thornton leads the team in assists with 15 and points with 19. Marleau is second on the team with 18 total points.
What To Watch For
Just like in the game against the Avalanche, I think tonight’s key will be winning that special teams battle. Detroit has struggled on both sides of the man-advantage this season with the penalty kill in 23rd place at 77.1% while their power play sits at 20th and only scores 15.9% of the time. If San Jose can get a goal or two on the power play it should be a good turnout for them. I know they went 0-5 against the Avalanche but looked VERY good and if they play that well again I would expect at least one goal tonight.