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Red Wings at Sharks Preview: Oh where, oh where has this rivalry gone?

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Anyone remember how these guys used to hate us?

DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 31: Tomas Hertl #48 of the San Jose Sharks battles for the puck with Luke Glendening #41 of the Detroit Red Wings during the first period at Little Caesars Arena on January 31, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

When the Sharks last saw the Red Wings, it was a tough loss to swallow. After outplaying the Red Wings for sixty minutes and holding up through a penalty in overtime, the Sharks went on to lose the game in a shootout.

Maybe it’s a small consolation that Detroit hasn’t exactly stepped up their game over the last month and a half. The Red Wings are sitting on a six-game losing streak, with their last win coming in overtime against the New York Rangers on February 25. They’re 2-6-2 in their last ten games.

The issue for Detroit seems to be that they’re a team who can’t score. Detroit’s scoring woes make the Sharks’ offensive struggles early in the season look like they had a roster of Art Ross contenders. The goal-scoring leader is winger Anthony Mantha with a respectable 23 goals, but it drops off after that. The next two goal scorers with 16 goals each are Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar — the latter of whom was dealt to the Vegas Golden Knights at the trade deadline, because the Wings really wanted to stick it to the Pacific Division, apparently. Dylan Larkin (49) and Henrik Zetterberg (44) lead the team in points, but they aren’t even scoring at the rate of San Jose defenseman, Brent Burns (53). Neither Larkin or Zetterberg have hit the ten-goal mark yet this season.

On top of not-scoring, the Wings are getting scored on at a rate that won’t be helped by trading their back up netminder, Petr Mrazek, to the Philadelphia Flyers at the deadline. Jared Coreau, the goaltender who gave the Barracuda the business in the 2016-17 Calder Cup Western Conference Final, has struggled in his two appearances with the big club following the trade, with an .865 save percentage and 5.16 goals against average over a game and a half.

Not scoring while getting scored on leaves the Wings with a -29 goal differential on the season. Their playoff dreams are all but mathematically dashed, as they’re fifth in the Atlantic with only 63 points (for comparison, every team in the Central has more points than the Red Wings, and only the Vancouver Canucks and the Arizona Coyotes have fewer in the Pacific). They’re now playing to mess up the standings and their own draft lottery chances.

Hot and Cold

Since the trade deadline, the Sharks have shown flashes of brilliance, while other nights, it’s clear that the acquisition of Evander Kane hasn’t fixed their underlying issues. Though Detroit has clearly laid heavier on shitting the bed, they’ve also had a few games that showcased the talent on that roster. So what happens when two streaky teams face off? They could both come in hot and make for an exciting game. They could both play like wet garbage and bore us to sleep.

Or the Sharks could set the tone early. There’s something to be said about momentum and mentality when teams are playing like this. The Sharks know they’re a better team. If they show that early, Detroit won’t have it in them to dig themselves out.

Hello, power play

The Sharks have the best penalty kill in the league, but their power play has fallen to tenth overall. After finally ending a record-breaking goalless power play streak, the Sharks could find easy pickings on the man-advantage tonight. The Red Wings’ penalty kill is 22nd in the league at 78.3 percent. The Sharks are playing a frustrated team tonight — they need to capitalize on that. Make the Wings play rough and draw penalties on their mistakes.

Line Blender

In the loss to the Washington Capitals, Pete DeBoer shuffled his forward lines in the final frame in an attempt to spark something from the offense. Logan Couture saw time on the top line with Kane and Joe Pavelski, putting a good chunk of the Sharks’ offensive eggs in a single basket.

DeBoer’s done this a lot this season and often, the line up sees some changes in the next game. The starting line up hasn’t really changed since adding Kane, so there’s a chances we see some players shifted around before tonight.

Bold prediction: The Sharks get a 6-2 victory. Six goals following up a shut out? Sure!

Check back later for lines and an open game thread, in the meantime drop your own bold prediction below.