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Real test coming this week
Pens and Wings will gauge Sharks
10/26/08 - By Mike Lee

A 7-2-0 start this season by the Sharks may have exceeded the expectations of many, but it's not what you do in October that counts. It's what you do in May and June. Well, almost. San Jose will get a chance to show the hockey world if they're for real this week with two big tests. Those tests come in the form of the two Stanley Cup Finalists from last season, and both are playing on caliber with their play last spring.

The 5-2-2 Pittsburgh Penguins come to town on Tuesday night for their only appearance in San Jose this season, followed by a visit from the defending Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings.

Led by their budding super stars, Sydney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins bring the 5th best record in the league and a true test for the Sharks. Malkin leads the Pens in scoring with 11 points (3 G, 9 A), followed closely by Crosby.

The tandem have combined for 16 points in their last four games.

The Sharks recent defensive woes will be put to the test by the club that is recognized for its offense, but has played well on the defensive side of the puck this season. Pittsburgh has allowed only 20 goals, which is 7th lowest in the league.

The Pens will also be looking to bounce back from a 3-2 OT loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday. They will have Joe Thornton's nemesis Matt Cooke back in the lineup after missing four games due to injured ribs.

Thornton's former teammate Hall Gill may not see action against the Sharks, while he deals with an issue with his hand. Gill injured it while blocking a shot against the Bruins last week.

The Red Wings trail the Sharks by a point for top record in the west, but more importantly carry the moniker of World Champions into town. Former Red Wings assistant Todd McLellan now runs the show in San Jose, so it'll be interesting to see how he prepares his team for the first of four meetings between the two teams this season.

Detroit plays Anaheim on Wednesday night, before traveling up the coast to face off against the Sharks. San Jose fans will not see Red Wings forward Johan Franzen, who injured his left knee on Saturday.

Franzen collided with Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Sopel in a knee-on-knee incident that sent the power forward to the locker room. An MRI on Sunday confirmed that Franzen injured his medial collateral ligament and will be sidelined 3 to 4 weeks.

Modeling their new style of play after the Red Wings, Ryane Clowe will get an in-game lesson from Tomas Holmstrom on crowding the net. The Red Wings are currently riding a 4-game winning streak, which has propelled them to the head of the Central Division standings. They overcame a 2-goal deficit on Saturday to knock off the Blackhawks 6-5 at the United Center.


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