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Red Wings no longer super human
Sharks need to capitalize on Detroit's desperation
5/3/11 - By Mike Lee -

Funny thing happened this spring. Somewhere along the lint the mighty Detroit Red Wings have become mere mortals. We're only two games into the semi-final series between Detroit and San Jose, but the Red Wings have shown that they're not the same intimidating force they once were. And for the record, I don't think it has anything to do with age.

Detroit skipped into San Jose with a chip on their shoulder, fueled by the fact that they cruised through the 1st round, winning four straight against the Phoenix Coyotes. Only problem is, the Sharks all of 72 hours to knock that chip off with big wins at home.

Forget the fact that both games were decided by a lone goal. San Jose outplayed the Red Wings in both contests, much as they have done since last spring. You may recall that the Sharks took 4-of-5 games from the Red Wings in last year's playoffs, then followed that up by winning 3-of-4 regular season games this year.

Joe Louis Arena doesn't intimidate the Sharks lineup. San Jose won both games regular season games in Detroit this season. They split in Detroit last spring. It's not the house of horrors that it once was.

All this talk of snow showers from Niklas Lidstrom has desperation written all over it. Detroit needs something to jump start their game, and the offense hasn't provided the spark needed to get the team in the win column.

Lidstrom's a crafty guy. He knows two things. The Red Wings have to generate more scoring and it's a lot easier to do that on the power play than not. Getting the referees to create more time on the man-advantage is something he's now openly lobbying for. Unfortunately for the Sharks, NHL officials have a tendency to appease veteran players, especially ones with Lidstrom's credentials.

The defenseman also knows that his goaltender needs the assurance that his team is behind him. Howard has played well, but he's been one goal worse then Antti Niemi in both games.

By complaining about snow showers, he's deflecting some of the negative attention away from his goaltender, even giving him an excuse to fall back on.

Lidstrom may also just recognize the obvious. Perhaps he understands that the Sharks actually are getting Howard off his game. By distracting him with their merciless desire to park themselves in front of the Detroit net, his attention isn't focused on more important things.

Ian White's goal in Game 2 was largely aided by all the traffic in front of Howard. Joe Pavelski's goal in Game 1 was scored from the doorstep. Granted the goal was scored on a fantastic display of hand-eye coordination, but Howard didn't contain Joe Thornton's initial shot, which allowed Pavelski to score.

Regardless of why, the Red Wings needs to figure out how to contain the San Jose, especially down low, where the Sharks have dominated.

Line Changes

Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock appears to be ready to split up his top line in order to force the Sharks to spread their focus across different areas. Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk practiced on different lines on Tuesday in preparation for Game 3.

Datsyuk is expected to skate on a line with Johan Franzen and Tomas Holmstrom. Zetterberg will skate opposite Todd Bertuzzi and Dan Cleary.

That plan has a chance if Zetterberg's ankle miraculously heels. He's looked like a shell of his healthy self in the series. He did score a goal in Game 2, but other then that, he's been a non-factor in the first two-games.

Babcock is also expected to insert veteran forward Kris Draper into his lineup. Draper will replace Drew Miller, who has played in all 6 playoff games for the Red Wings thus far. Babcock knows he needs to do something to get his team a win.

Of course, it all may be simple gamesmanship to try and cross up the Sharks. That seems unlikely because Sharks head coach doesn't traditionally make changes when things are going good.

Roenick Rules

This has nothing to do with the playoffs or the Red Wings, but I wanted to make sure it was presented. In another sign of why he's loved by so many fans, Former Shark Jeremy Roenick posted an address where fans can send items for him to sign on Facebook on Tuesday night.

His post was short and sweet:

For autographs, send to:

Roenicklife,LLC 8912 E. Pinnacle Peak Rd. suiteF9- 661, Scottsdale, AZ 85255.

Send with packaging, address and postage (Add insurance if its a Jersey)


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