If nothing else, tonight’s Wings-Sharks games will be remembered for the scoring touch of Detroit’s “Mule.” Johan Franzen’s four goals and six points lead the way to help give Detroit a 7-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks in Game 4. It was very nearly a five goal effort for Franzen but Detroit’s first goal, originally credited to Franzen, was changed to Todd Bertuzzi after it apparently deflected off his leg and past starting goalie Evgeni Nabokov.
Franzen’s fourth goal would come in the third period off of Nabokov’s replacement Thomas Greiss with the game well in hand, but for him it would tie him with Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby for most points so far in this year’s playoffs with 17. If the Red Wings are to come back in this series, Franzen is going to have to stay hot and allow Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk the room to get free on the ice. Greiss finished the game making 26 saves on 28 shots in two periods of work. Evgeni Nabokov stopped 4 out of 9 shots he saw in the first. Jimmy Howard came away with 28 saves in the win.
If you’re a Sharks fan, you can take solace in the fact that a huge blowout is generally easier to shrug off than a heartbreaking overtime loss. On the other hand, if it allows Detroit to gather any momentum or plant the seed of doubt in what has proven to be a more mentally tough Sharks team. Of course, the bigger upside for San Jose is knowing that they’re just one win from advancing. It’s the little things that count.
Game 5 will be Saturday night in San Jose.
Injury Note: Wings defenseman Brad Stuart left the game in the first period with a “lower body injury” but coach Mike Babcock said he expects Stuart to play in Game 5.
The Pittsburgh Penguins dominated the San Jose Sharks in the first period of Game 1, no doubt about it.
Even so, the Sharks entered the middle frame down 2-0, and responded rather than shriveling up. They basically switched roles with the Penguins in the second period, ultimately tying things up 2-2.
The first goal was one Matt Murray would probably like back (even more than a goalie would want any goal back, mind you), as Tomas Hertl beat him five-hole for a power-play goal.
Witness the Sharks’ first-ever goal in a Stanley Cup Final:
Fittingly, a grizzled veteran and longtime face of the Sharks’ franchise tied it up, as Patrick Marleau made it 2-2 with a clever wraparound:
Which team will win the third period? Could we see overtime? Find out on NBC.
Yes, the St. Louis Blues fell short of the Stanley Cup Final, but they still broke some playoff hexes in 2015-16. Apparently Blues management saw enough to bring back Ken Hitchcock.
That’s the word from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Nick Kypreos, who report that the Blues are expected to announce a one-year deal with the veteran head coach on Tuesday.
Friedman wonders if these one-year pacts (Hitchcock was on one for 2015-16 as well) may chase away other staffers:
When asked about these scenarios, Hitchcock seemed like he was in favor of experiencing a perpetual “contract year.”
“I scare myself because I think if I take long-term deal, I’m gonna get sloppy,” Hitchcock told Hockey Central at Noon and Sportsnet back in mid-May. “I want to stay on one-year deals.
For plenty of fans, it makes perfect sense to bring Hitchcock back after the Blues took steps forward.
Others wonder if Hitchcock’s style (which leans toward dump-and-chase and “gritty” hockey more than some other teams) may leave the Blues in the dust, however.
That’s a debate for a bar or a message board, yet one can see deeper logic in giving Hitchcock one more shot.
While the Blues have decisions to make – including what to do with free agent captain David Backes – the team is also structured to make another run. Brian Elliott, Jake Allen, Kevin Shattenkirk and Colton Parayko all have deals that will expire after 2016-17, and each contract is a bargain.
If St. Louis believes that Hitchcock is the right fit for that personnel group, then it makes sense to give him another go.
Generally speaking, the strategic talk heading into Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final focused on the San Jose Sharks’ deeper defense vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins’ blinding speed.
It’s very early, but so far: advantage Penguins.
Pittsburgh came roaring out of the gate in front of a boisterous Consol Energy Center crowd, but it took them a while to break through.
Once the Penguins did, they raced ahead to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals just 1:02 apart.
First, Bryan Rust kept his red-hot streak going with the 1-0 tally.
Moments later, Sidney Crosby made a beautiful pass to Conor Sheary to put the Penguins up two.
There were a few other moments in which the Sharks looked like they were really struggling with the Penguins’ speed, but Martin Jones made some saves that could be big if San Jose can gather its wits.
Sometimes you need to ask important questions, breaking down positional battles and strategies.
Other times you can’t help but ask “Which guy has the better beard?”
In the case of Joe Thornton and Brent Burns, the San Jose Sharks boast two players with elite beards to match their elite skills. “Jumbo Joe” drew a lot of attention for his wild facial hair, yet Burns may very well have inspired Thornton to go heavy-whisker in the first place.
The video above breaks down those two beards, in case you’re itching for a comparison.
One thing that sparks little debate? Both players’ wives are real troopers.