The No. 1 team in the league goes head-to-head with the defending Stanley Cup Champions on Thursday as the San Jose Sharks take on the Detroit Red Wings.
Despite being mid-December, fans around the league are still referring to the Sharks' record as a "hot start," but a win in Detroit in the second game of back-to-backs may change the fans' viewpoint. Beating Detroit Thursday would put the Sharks 11 points in front of second place Detroit in the NHL, and you might want to start referring to this year's Sharks team as one of the best teams put together.
But, beating the defending Stanley Cup Champion Red Wings is going to be no easy task for the current league leading Sharks. Since their 4-2 victory over Detroit in San Jose back on Oct. 30, the Sharks are 14-1-3, but will be playing without some of their top players.
Torrey Mitchell has yet to play in a game this season. In addition, Jonathan Cheechoo, Jeremy Roenick, and Joe Pavelski will be joining the Sharks' list of injuries
Cheechoo, despite having a slow start due to injury, has provided great fore checking and defensive play when he's been healthy enough to play. Jeremy Roenick hasn't put up as many points this year but is still one of those energy guys that makes the Sharks tough to play night in and night out.
And last but not least Joe Pavelski, the Sharks' second line center, has also been out with injury. He is arguably the most important of these three as he is sixth on the team in scoring with 23 points.
The Sharks are also coming off of an overtime loss in Columbus on Wednesday that dropped them to 23-3-3. Even though the loss kept their streak alive of gaining at least a point in their last 15 games, San Jose hasn't been playing up to the caliber they were at just a couple of weeks ago.
Before Wednesday, the last time the Sharks had played Columbus was back on Dec. 4 when San Jose was thoroughly out-played, despite pulling out a 3-2 victory. This past Saturday, the Sharks had to hang on in the final moments to beat a slumping St. Louis Blues team by a final of 5-4.
Detroit, on the other hand, has been off since Monday, when they lost at home to Colorado by a 3-2 score. The Wings found themselves in a 2-0 hole early and weren't able to overcome the deficit.
But, its important to note that Detroit hasn't lost back-to-back home games since they opened the season 0-1-1. With the Sharks banged up a little more than usual, there is no better time for the Red Wings to keep that streak alive and cut the gap between them and the first place Sharks to seven points.