Sharks And Wings Battle For Playoff Positioning: Game Preview


Mar 28, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Patrick Marleau (12) looks to shoot against Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) during the third period at HP Pavilion. The San Jose Sharks defeated the Detroit Red Wings 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks (20-12-7) take on the Detroit Red Wings (19-15-5) in Detroit during game three of this four-game road swing.

San Jose has continued their road struggles this year losing these first two game on this road trip after winning six out of seven at home.  The Sharks last game on Tuesday was no exception as they got shut out by the Columbus Blue Jackets in a very disappointing 4-0 loss.

Meanwhile the Red Wings are battling for position on the Western Conference and are currently seated eighth in the standings.  They are one point ahead of the Coyotes who won last night.  Tonight’s game between the Sharks and Red wings will have huge playoff implications as we now hit the single-digit mark for games remaining.

Luckily for the Sharks, during their day off they did not lose any ground in the Western Conference because all the teams around them were idle.  That includes the L.A. Kings, Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues and the Detroit Red Wings.

All of these teams play today with the key matchups being the Sharks versus the Wings and Minnesota also facing St. Louis.  Bascially, there could be quite a bit of movement by the end of the day.  Also, keep in mind the Sharks have a game in hand on the Kings, so that could come in handy at some point as well.

This will be the third and final meeting of the season between the two teams with San Jose gaining all four possible points to date.  Niemi has won both games so far, one by a shootout and one by shutout.  He’ll be looking for the season sweep tonight along with the rest of his teammates.

Tonight he’ll be facing a Detroit team led by none other than Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.  Datsyuk is the overall team leader in points with 38 which includes his team-leadings 13 goals and 25 assists and also totes a team high +13 plus-minus rating.  Zetterberg, who is second on the team with 35 points, leads all of his teammates with 27 assists this season.  Behind them in third with 26 points is defenseman Niklas Kronwall who has 5 goals and 21 assists.

Tonight Joe Thornton will be looking to get back into stride after a rough performance two nights ago.  A misread on a defensive assignment led him to only getting 2:21 of ice time for the entire third period after it ended in the back of his own net.  Against a Columbus team with a hot goaltender that is one mistake too many.

After the game Thornton took the blame for the loss, and while that’s all nice and everything, he needs to show it on the ice.  He has been help pointless in his last three games and will most likely need to get on the board tonight in order for the Sharks to get a win.  Let’s hope that happens.