Sharks Gameday: Changes



5:00 PST
Sharks lead 2-0
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Winging It In Motown
Abel To Yzerman

Detroit, Michigan. Home of the must-win.

And yet, for the second year in a row, San Jose isn't facing that kind of pressure tonight. It's the Wings with their backs against the wall, a veteran team looking for that one last push, looking for that answer that has eluded them against the Sharks these last two years. A team who's desperately in need of a turnaround to erase the ills of a 1-6 postseason record against San Jose from 2010 to the present day.

For San Jose, tonight is about recitations. For Detroit, it's about rehabilitation and reactions.

Yesterday both Todd McLellan and Mike Babcock went into their old bag of tricks, switching the look of their top six forwards. It was speculated earlier this week that Detroit would switch up their top six after scoring two goals in two games at HP Pavilion, and according to writer Dave Lozo, this is how things shook up:

Red Wings top two lines at practice: Franzen-Datsyuk-Holmstrom, Bertuzzi-Zetterberg-Cleary. Babcock doesn't confirm Datsyuk and Zetterberg will be split for Game 3. But you have to believe he's leaning that way.

Actually, you don't have to believe that. I'm not hear to push my beliefs on you. Believe whatever you want.

>> Dave Lozo via Twitter

McLellan also took his time today trying out a different set of forward lines:

Todd McLellan mixed things up a little today on his top two lines, too.

Logan Couture was at left wing on a line with Joe Thornton and Devin Setoguchi. Patrick Marleau skated at center with Ryane Clowe and Dany Heatley on the wings.

>> Working The Corners

Whether or not McLellan's stick with this current lineup is probably up for debate-- Couture played with Thornton for parts of this season and was effective as you would expect the Calder Trophy candidate to be. With San Jose struggling for goals (the top six hasn't scored yet) and Babcock making some minor adjustments as well, it's a way to give an opposing team something new to think about. However, the safe bet in this situation is that these line rushes at practice are contingency plan in the event Detroit jumps out to an early lead.

Think of it this way-- the top six has been pretty stable throughout the tail end of this year, players have been getting into the rhythm of playing with a certain group of forwards. Today's practice attempts to re-establish some chemistry with guys who haven't seen the ice together at evens for awhile in the event he feels like a change needs to be made.

As the old saying goes, if it ain't broke don't fix it. Considering the Sharks have carried the play for large portions of this series, out-chancing the Wings along the way, McLellan is likely content with how his top six has handled themselves in all three zones. Toss a few looks at Babcock to start the game, see what matchups he's looking for, and adjust on the fly.

All these line changes and posturing flies out the window at 5 PM PST tonight. San Jose has been an excellent road team over the course of the last few years, and the general mentality players talk about when musing about going on the road plays into the Sharks strengths.

Get puck deeps, exploit the size mismatch amongst forwards, cycle the puck, wear down Detroit, and draw penalties off of that.

Things that the Sharks have been very successful with lately. And something they'll continue to do tonight.

Prediction: Sharks win 3-1. Goals by Pavelski, Heatley, Boyle, and Thornton.