This is one of a few rivalries for the San Jose Sharks that had been ruined by re-alignment. Now even though this was more of a one sided rivalry in the fact that Sharks fans probably took it more serious than their counterparts in Detroit. This match up provided us with some of our greatest memories of team teal and also some epic defeats we would rather forget. The teams today have a lot in common though, they are both trying to make their way through arguably weak divisions under a new coaching staff. These teams have both played better hockey in years past and have had to deal with significant injuries to players. Tonight they will lock horns to see who can find their way back to the consistency they had been once known for.
Breaking Down The Detroit Red Wings
Record: 8-6-1, 17 points, 5th in the Atlantic Division
Current Streak: Won one.
Power Play: 17.6% (20th)
Penalty Kill: 83.3% (8th)
The big news for the Detroit Red Wings is the return of Pavel Datsyuk to the lineup, Datsyuk has not played a game since last year as he missed training camp and all the games this season following a summer ankle surgery. It will be interesting to see how much rust he may have on him. Datsyuk has menaced the Sharks in the past scoring 9 goals, 24 assists for 33 points in 42 regular season match ups. In net today for the Red Wings the Sharks will face Jimmy Howard who has been sharing time with Peter Mrazek. Howard is probably the first starting goaltender the Sharks have faced in over a week and has had trouble with the Sharks as he has gone 4-6-4 with a 2.88 GAA and a .905 SV%.
The Red Wings are known for their development of young players and a player I think you should keep an eye on is second line center Dylan Larkin. Larkin was the Red Wings first round pick in the 2014 draft (15th. overall), and has recorded 4 goals and 6 assists in 15 games. This is a guy with a super bright future. Justin Abdelkader is also reported to be on the verge of signing a new contract that would see him stay in Detroit for many years to come, Abdelkader is definitely a big part of the Red Wings future.
Red Wings Projected Lineup
Injured List: Franzen, Quincy, Richards, Ferraro
Abdelkader – Zetterberg – Datsyuk
Tatar – Larkin – Nyquist
Sheahan – Athanasiou – Pulkkinen
Miller – Glendening – Helm
Kronwall – Green
DeKeyser – Ericsson
Smith – Marchenko
Breaking Down The San Jose Sharks
Record: 7-8-0, 14 points, 4th in the Pacific Division
Current Streak: Lost two
Power Play: 11.4% (30th)
Penalty Kill: 77.1% (22nd)
After two straight losses and and going 3-7-0 in their last ten games head coach Peter DeBoer has finally decided to change things up. The changes to the lineup tonight are things that I have advocated for a while. The most important move to me is moving Patrick Marleau to center to force Tomas Hertl and Chris Teirney down the line which should go a long way towards fixing a lot of the issues in the bottom six. Tomas Hertl had exceeded my expectations as a second line center for this team and even though he got off to a rough start I feel that if not for the hole that his absence left in the bottom six he had earned the spot in Logan Couture’s absence. Chris Teirney on the other hand has struggled this year as has his rotation of line mates. I don’t know if all the blame should fall on Teirney but dropping back to the fourth line should allow him to regain some confidence. After all it takes a special player to make Mike Brown look good.
Melker Karlsson will rejoin the top line trying to pick up where he left off last year. I thought Karlsson looked great in his return to the line up and his willingness to do anything to get the puck should be a solid asset to that line. Nikolay Goldobin returns to the line up to play on the wing of Patrick Marleau. So far Goldobin has impressed me a great deal in his call ups and I hope this appearance will be no different. I may have put him back on the third line again and let Joonas Donskoi play on the second but I’m willing to see where this goes. Speaking of Donskoi, he is a very versatile player who should do well on the third line, he is never going to be a driving force on a line in the NHL but he will always be the unheralded complementary piece. Martin Jones will get the start tonight hoping to finish the game he has been pulled in two of his last three starts. Jones has gone 6-5-0, with a 2.23 GAA and a .918 SV%. If he continues this downward trend he may become one of Doug Wilson‘s more costly mistakes during his tenure as Sharks general manager. I’d expect Alex Stalock to get the start tomorrow in Buffalo.
Sharks Projected Lines
Injured List: Couture, Smith
Karlsson – Thornton – Pavelski
Goldobin – Marleau – Ward
Donskoi – Hertl – Wingels
Nieto – Tierney – Brown
Vlasic – Braun
Martin – Burns
Dillon – Tennyson