Tonight marks the final game of the season series between the San Jose Sharks and the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit took the first meeting of the year 2-1 in a shootout, and the Sharks took the last game 2-0, making this game the rubber match.
What tonight also marks is the last match up of two of the decade's most successful franchises as conference rivals. These two teams have the two longest playoff streaks in the NHL. The Sharks have made the playoffs for eight straight years, last missing the postseason in the 2002-2003 season. (By the way, does anyone else miss Jim Fahey?) The Pittsburgh Penguins are next behind San Jose with a playoff streak of six seasons, seven since they recently clinched a spot this year.
While both are impressive, they're nothing compared to Detroit's streak of making the Stanley Cup playoffs for the last twenty-one seasons.
The last time the Red Wings missed the playoffs was the 1989-1990 season. Just for some context, neither I nor the San Jose Sharks had been born yet. We have not known a world where the Detroit Red Wings were not in the playoffs. And that's what makes this game so interesting. Detroit is desperately clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the west. They have nine games left to play this year, and are 1 point ahead of the Desert Dogs, and 2 points ahead of the Stars and Blue Jackets.
It'd be one hell of a farewell present from the Sharks if they can win the season series and give a serious blow to the Red Wings' playoff chances.
|20-12-7, 47 points||19-15-5, 43 points
|5th in Western Conference||8th in Western Conference|
Projected Sharks Lineup
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Brent Burns
Raffi Torres - Joe Thornton - Tommy Wingels
James Sheppard - Joe Pavelski - Martin Havlat
Andrew Desjardins - Scott Gomez - Adam Burish
Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Jason Demers - Brad Stuart
Projected Red Wings Lineup
Henrik Zetterberg - Pavel Datsyuk - Justin Abdelkader
Drew Miller - Johan Franzen - Gustav Nyquist
Daniel Cleary - Valtteri Filppula - Damien Brunner
Cory Emmerton - Joakim Andersson - Jordin Tootoo
Niklas Kronwall - Jonathan Ericsson
Brendan Smith - Kyle Quincey
Danny DeKeyser - Jakub Kindl
Expect some major lineup changes for the Sharks. Things didn't go exactly as planned in Columbus, and Todd McLellan was understandably unhappy with some of his players. The Sharks practiced with these lines yesterday, according to David Pollak, but McLellan's Magical Line Blender may mix things up before the start of the game. In the same report from Pollak, he mentions that T.J. Galiardi wasn't involved "because McLellan noted Galiardi is dealing with some soreness and isn't a sure thing." (By the way, don't fall down the rabbit hole of reading the comments unless you want an argument about why Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau suck and should emulate Barry Zito.)
For the Wings, Brunner should be back into the lineup after missing a few games. Sharks fans will get their first look at Danny DeKeyser, who has played 2 games with Detroit after being one of the most high profile college signings.
Prediction: Sharks win 2-1. Goals by Sheppard and Stuart. And without a doubt in my mind, DeKeyser will get his first career goal tonight. Meanwhile, Raffi Torres does something douchey and trolls Jordin Tootoo, winning over hundreds more Sharks fans in the process.