When I said Detroit would take San Jose in seven games I envisioned a back and forth series, not a wild three-game comeback by the Winged Wheel.
The Sharks were 16 minutes away from locking up the series in game six last night. Funny, the Sabres were about that far away in game six as well. No matter, the Red Wings scored three unanswered goals and sent the series back to the Golden State for a seventh game. The Sharks also had a pair of two goal leads erased on Sunday, at home, in game five.
It all adds up to one team carrying all the momentum and another clawing to stay on the mountain. Now, the Blackhawks had all the momentum heading into game seven in Vancouver. In fact, they snatched the “mo” late in the third with Jonathon Towes shortie. Only Alex Burrows’ OT winner flipped the script for the Canucks. Perhaps the Sharks will receive a similar heroic performance. After all, Logan Couture has continued to prove he his twice the player than the mop-topped boy band member down in Raleigh. He has been huge for San Jose. Joe Pavelski has been good, but you haven’t seen too much from the big three of Thornton, Heatley and Marleau. Of course, Mike Babcock knows a thing or two about defensive hockey.
The goaltending has been very even. When it has been bad, both goalies have been bad. When it has been good, both goalies have been spectacular. Their performance will be magnified for game seven but there hasn’t been a game in which one keeper has outperformed the other by a large margin.
Ultimately the deciding factor may be special teams and the Sharks special teams has faltered over the past few games. Again, with out their big guns firing on all cylinders, the offensive output will suffer. If San Jose hopes to win, the top line needs to produce, getting Ryane Clowe back wouldn’t hurt either. If the Wings are to win, they need to continue playing the game that won them three-straight. Simple, hard-working hockey. They have ground out the Sharks a bit more lately and they are getting traffic to the net. Keep that up and they will sew up the series.
My money is staying with the Red Wings. Sure, the fans in San Jose are passionate. But they won’t put out anywhere near the noise that the fans in Detroit have been producing. The home ice advantage isn’t as prevalent in the Shark Tank, especially when the possibility of another playoff let down against Detroit is looming.