A message to the Detroit Red Wings:
It's time to s@#% or get off the pot.
No more 50 percent efforts. No more one-goal games. No more embarrassing losses to basement teams. It's time to start playing like the defending Stanley Cup champions and tonight is the night that you show the league exactly why you're the team to be feared in the NHL.
If ever there was a game this season where the outcome could be foretelling of a season's future it will be this one. The Sharks have clearly become one of, if not the best teams in the NHL and for the Wings to say the same they'll have to put in their best game of the year to date.
How does the saying go? "To be the best, you have to beat the best".
Teams used to have to say this about Detroit but the Wings don't have a regulation win in their last five games and the sub-par efforts put in recently will not win them this game or any respect around the NHL unless changes are made to their game and tonight's game can be a great turn around point for a team that should be playing a lot better then they have lately.
The loss of Chris Osgood to a groin injury won't exactly help matters but backup Ty Conklin will have a shot at redemption after the two teams last meeting that resulted in a 4-2 win for the Sharks.
Give the Sharks some credit though. They're finally producing like everyone has expected them to and it's in no small part to the aquisition of former Red Wing assistant coach Todd McClellan who's defensive minded coaching has put the Sharks 2nd in the NHL in goals against per game (2.32) and 3rd in goal for per game (3.55).
Combine this with the great season Danny Boyle is having along with Rob Blake's resurgence and the Sharks defence are beginning to look like the Wings defence of old.
Both the Sharks and Red Wings are coming off one goal loses to teams they should have beat (Sharks lost to Blue Jackets 2-1 and the Wings lost to Av's 3-2) and both are looking to avoid their first back-to-back regulation loses this season so it's easy to see that both teams want this win.
However, the Wings will need to dig deeper than stat sheet pride to win against a Sharks team that is playing with fire in their game this season.
In order for the Wings to not only win this game but to repeat as Cup champions, this team needs to re-capture that hunger which has been clearly lacking lately and tonight's game will be a very telling indication.