Coming into the series, much of the talk was about how deep both teams were and how big a role the depth players would play in determining the winner.
Detroit can clearly score up and down their roster, with 16 of 19 players scoring a point in the quarterfinal series.
San Jose can boast similar depth, however the skill level of the depth is where the Sharks are markedly superior so far in the series. The top three lines for San Jose scored five goals apiece in the first round, and so far the Detroit Red Wings haven’t had a solution for the Sharks depth.
The second line of Heatley-Couture-Clowe has dominated the Red Wings at times, including a tough stretch in the second period of Game 1. Mitchell-Pavelski-Wellwood have been red-hot since their inception in February, and it’s clear the Sharks depth is making the difference thus far.
It will be interesting to see what changes Babcock employs as his team fights to gain some ground in Game 3. He’s sure to make adjustments at home with the last change, but Todd McLellan is comfortable with the Thornton line against the Datsyuk line when the game is on the line.
Both teams boast all-world talent on their top lines, but have battled through two games at a near stalemate. Should Babcock split up the Red Wing top line, that should undoubtedly leave more operating room for Setoguchi-Thornton-Marleau.
San Jose’s secondary scoring has played a huge role in the 2-0 series lead and will continue to make the difference in Game 3.
The Sharks second period has been a strong one in the playoffs, and they are out-shooting the Red Wings 37-18 in the middle stanza so far. They have also outscored their playoff opponents 12-8 in the second period, and hold a 119-90 advantage in shots.
Considering the way that both of these teams play, winning faceoffs and controlling the puck is paramount to their success. The second period for the Sharks has shown some remarkable trends as well in that department, including a dominant Game 1 performance by Thornton.
San Jose will have to play their best hockey to date against the Red Wings, who will be fighting for their playoff lives. They will give San Jose an effort worthy of season saving distinction, and the Sharks shouldn't want it any other way.
Here’s to win number seven of 16, and to one hell of a game.