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Season Series: SJS 3-1-0
You want to talk about a series that's been giving me an absolute fit? Here you go.
The Sharks are looking as dangerous as ever right now, proving that they have the offensive firepower to carry them deep into the playoffs, and the defense to support them, both in keeping the puck out of their net and also by helping to put it in their opponent's.
The only real weakness I can see in San Jose at the moment is in net. Antti Niemi was far from impressive last series against a Los Angeles team that really didn't have a lot to offer offensively with its top scorer Anze Kopitar out for the entire first round.
Niemi was pulled twice in this series and gave up three or more goals in five of the six games against LA.
Additionally the Sharks struggled heavily on their home ice last series. While they were the only team to win a game at home, they were also only able to do so once. This could be a problem because the Joe Louis Arena is a much tougher place to go in and win than Staples Center.
Meanwhile Detroit had a bit of a lousy finish to the regular season, but pulled it together quickly to absolutely dominate the Phoenix Coyotes on their way to a first-round sweep. (sidenote: am I the only one who really feels like it sucks that this might be the way the Phoenix Coyotes end their existence?)
The depth and playoff experience on the Detroit squad is unparalleled and the bottom line is they know what it takes to win in the playoffs. As for the Sharks... well I think everyone knows their history and tendencies when it comes to the playoffs (notwithstanding last year's five-game series victory over these same Red Wings).
Either way, it's not looking too friendly for San Jose right about now. If they want to have a chance of moving on in this series they're going to have to find a way to hold their home ice and keep their offense producing consistently.
Their defense is going to have their hands full with the Red Wings offense that is stacked with names like Thomas Holmstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, and (oh yeah...) that Pavel Datsyuk guy who everyone is always raving about.
If Antti Niemi is going to backstop a team to a second consecutive Stanley Cup, he's going to have to prove his worth over the next four to seven games.
Prediction: Red Wings in 6
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