[Open Thread] Game Eleven: Detroit Red Wings at San Jose Sharks (Thursday October 30, 2008)

7-1-2 8-2-0
1st Central Division 1st Pacific Division
2nd Western Conference 1st Western Conference

Come tomorrow morning, if you are an employer on the East Coast and one or more of your underlings come stumbling in with eyes a-bleary and a coffee IV firmly in place do not make the mistake of berating them for starting their Halloween party a tad early.  They're just hockey fans who stayed up to catch this must-see battle of the ocean dwellers.

The Cephalopods are no doubt in a foul mood after getting torched by the Fowl... er, Ducks last night for five goals, three courtesy of Teemu Selanne, en route to an overtime loss.  Nevertheless they're still the Red Wings, the against which all others measure themselves.  The franchise that never rebuilds, only reloads.  Latest example is Marián Hossa, picked up as a free agent this past off-season and currently the leading points man on the team in the city through which the road to the Stanley Cup always runs.

That all said, while Detroit leads the league in goals scored they're also not exactly boasting about a defense that's tied for allowing the sixth-most goals thus far this young season.  When you venerable #1 goaltender (Chris Osgood) is carrying a 3.38 GAA and an .879 save percentage, you're not exactly putting the tentacles on anyone.  The Red Wings power play has been hot (32.4%, trailing only St. Louis) but the penalty kill is mid-pack at 81.4%.  If the game turns into an affair featuring more flying rubber than a sorority water balloon fight it should be to the Sharks advantage.

There is of course the Darth Vader vs. Luke Skywalker angle minus the parental portion as Sharks head coach Scott McLellan faces off against his boss of last year Detroit head coach Mike Babcock.  Which doesn't really mean anything unless one can glean some information based on their past working together that will translate into an advantage in terms of how their team should approach the other.

At any rate, plenty of star power and firepower tonight.  San Jose has a clear advantage in goal, which will help when facing Hossa and Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holdstrom and the ageless Niklas Lidstrom among others.  This game matters as much as a game in October can matter.  Most definitely not one to be missed.  Enjoy, everyone.