NHL Playoffs 2011: Detroit Red Wings vs. Sharks: Game 3 Must-Win for the Wings

Michael MrockCorrespondent IMay 4, 2011

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 01:  Jimmy Howard #35 of the Detroit Red Wings makes a diving save during the second period of their game against the San Jose Sharks in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion on May 1, 2011 in San Jose, California. Howard's teammates Jonathan Ericsson #52 and Ruslan Salei #24 watch their goalie make the save.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Game 3 on Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena will bring the noise to wake up the Red Wings.  Down 2-0 to the Sharks, the Wings must win Wednesday night.  The fans in Detroit are not in the mood to see any handshakes this week. 

The Red Wings, who had more rest due to the only sweep in the NHL Playoffs, are still waking up.  Jimmy Howard is playing on his head to only lose the first two games 2-1 OT and 2-1.  Yet the problem is that there has only been two total goals from the deepest team in the playoffs.

It's not the first time they have been in a series down 2-0 only to win the series,  The most noted example was in 2002 when they faced Vancouver.  They lost their first two games at home. However, when they got to Vancouver they turned it around to take the series and eventually win Stanley Cup No.10.  Ironically, Red Wing Todd Bertuzzi was on that Canucks team.

However, this year's version of this situation involves the Wings losing the first two games on the road. The Wings have the advantage in this series as they start their comeback at home before a rowdy Hockeytown crowd. 

The Wings have to prove to the Detroit fans that the first two games were as fluky as the goals the Sharks got on them.  They have a lot of work to do to accomplish this, but the Wings are too deep to completely fold.

Obviously they will have to score more goals.  Nicklas Lidstrom scored the only goal in Game 1 and Henrik Zetterberg scored the only goal on the power play in Game 2.  Pavel Datsyuk assisted on both goals.  Tomas Holmstrom also assisted on the Game 2 goal. 

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 01:  Henrik Zetterberg #40 and Pavel Datsyuk #13 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrate after Henrik Zetterberg scored a goal against the San Jose Sharks in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playo
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

In the prior series, 13 different players scored in four games for the Wings.  They put on a clinic that was led by the artistry of Datsyuk.

Datsyuk is still showing that artistry to assist on both Detroit goals.  However, he needs to score his own goals as well.  The presence of Zetterberg in this series has been noted, but he has not scored yet.  Franzen, who is known as a playoff magician, has also been shut out by the Sharks.

Not only have the Wings only scored two goals, they have also been outshot  83 to 59 by the Sharks.  Usually the Wings outshoot everyone else.  This is not like them to be beaten at their own game.

The Sharks are putting up what can be considered a wall or a trap where all of their players will line up across their blue line to clog up the lanes.  All the Wings can do is dump the puck in, but by the time they get in the zone, the Sharks have been for the most part to get the puck out of the zone.   The Wings have gotten shots off, but their ability to create a rush has been hampered by this wall.

Unlike the first round, the Wings are getting stupid penalties.  The four-minute double minor in OT for high-sticking on Justin Abdelkader still bothers me; however, for him to get another in Game 2 is not helping his cause.

Plus the Wings have been called for 14 total penalties with five of those for roughing alone.  There have also been calls for slashing, boarding, another high-sticking (Zetterberg) and delay of game.  This many penalties is cause for alarm that the Wings are losing their focus and cool.

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 01:  Marc-Edouard Vlasic #44 of the San Jose Sharks and Todd Bertuzzi #44 of the Detroit Red Wings are separated by lineman Jay Sharrers in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pav
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Also many of these penalties were offsetting as a Shark was called, too.  Sure it leads to four-on-four hockey, but it doesn't mean it is a true power play.

It's not to say the refs are at fault for this at all.  Benn Ferriero got a four-minute minor for high-sticking on Abdelkader a few minutes after Abdelkader's second call for high-sticking in Game 2. Abdelkader did show blood, it wasn't seriously gushing but it was a lot more obvious than the OT call in Game 1.  The Wings did not score on the double minor penalty though.

Also the Sharks have found a way to get under the skin of Howard.  Their players give him snow showers with their skates at any opportunity.  It has bothered Howard so much that when Joe Thornton did it on accident, Howard still stood up to shove him. For Howard to get frustrated that he is getting snowed on is only exceeded by the fact that the Sharks are able to get close to him to do so.

The other disturbing trend is that two goals by the Sharks were due to deflections off of Wings' sticks.  In Game 1, the OT winner by Ferriero was off of Brad Stuart's stick and in Game 2, the Sharks second goal by Niclas Wallin was off of Niklas Kronwall's stick.

The Wings will have to get their act together for Wednesday night or this will be a long summer for the Wings and the city of Detroit.  They have all the tools they need to turn this series around.  It is not just a display of their talents.

Game 3 will also be a presentation of how strong their chemistry is as well.  In the past when the team has needed a lift, it sometimes requires a role player to get the ball rolling.  Whether it be Darren Helm, Abdelkader or Ruslan Salei, someone will have to break through that Sharks wall and get the lamp to go red.

Does it mean someone sits or do the lines get shaken up?  It is hard to say especially since Mike Babcock keeps his decisions under wraps until game time.  However, seeing Kris Draper or Mike Modano might provide the kind of spark only a player that has been there before can provide.

The team needs to cut down on the penalties especially the offsetting ones.  Howard needs to lighten up if he gets showered again or he might get called again.

The players need to watch their sticks when the Sharks let off shots to prevent deflections as well as stop letting the Sharks get so many shots off.

The wall or trap that the Sharks are using can be defeated.  The Wings need to stunt their movements up the ice to draw the Sharks to break their own wall.  The Wings then need to capitalize on any available puck and take the shot.  Who knows, the Sharks might deflect it in their net for a change.

Prediction for Game 3.

Red Wings—3


One octopus will make the ice somehow.