In just a few hours*, the Vancouver Canucks will know their Western Conference finals opponents. If the San Jose Sharks make it, the two teams can give each other a knowing nod about nearly coughing up a 3-0 series lead. Conversely, if the Detroit Red Wings end up winning, they would be just the fourth team in NHL history to pull off such a feat.
While a lot of things are up in the air, we know a few things about tonight’s game. Barring unforeseen injuries, Jimmy Howard and Antti Niemi will be in net. The star-crossed Sharks crowd will probably have a lot of nervous energy. Many sportswriters will make judgments about the San Jose franchise, especially in defeat.
The biggest concrete question revolves around the statuses of Ryane Clowe and Johan Franzen. Both remain game-time decisions, but we’ll let you know if that changes anytime soon.
Detroit @ San Jose (Versus) – 9 p.m. ET; Series tied at 3-3
At this point, you’re probably aware of all the pressure resting squarely on the Sharks’ shoulders. Any team in this position would be under pressure, but considering the time-honored tradition of labeling San Jose “chokers,” this game might mean even more for this franchise. It might not be fair, but people could very well lose their jobs if they end up on the wrong side of the handshake line tonight.
That’s not to say that the Red Wings aren’t facing pressure either, though. Not everyone on the team is past their primes, but this team is a bit on the older side, so some might wonder how many chances this core group has left.
If this series’ previous six games are any indication, we should be in for a dramatic and closely fought game. The one definite group of winners is fans of the game as a whole.
In case you haven’t been keeping up with PHT content on this game, here’s a quick rundown of some of the previews and other information regarding Game 7:
- To little surprise, the Red Wings are far more experienced in Game 7s than the Sharks.
- PHT discusses the greatest Game 7 performances of all-time and who could be tonight’s hero.
- Joe points out just how miserable Detroit is making life for San Jose.
- Jeremy Roenick calls Patrick Marleau “gutless” but also says that he hopes the talented center makes him eat his words.
Want some other “bigger picture” stories about the Red Wings and Sharks? Check these posts out.
- Many expect Nicklas Lidstrom to return next season.
- It seems like the Red Wings defense is stepping up, but we had our concerns about that facet of their game going into the second round.
- Plenty of people doubted Niemi going into this series, but PHT made an argument to be patient with the goalie.
- Finally, check out this post for hypotheses about why this Sharks team might be different from squads in the past.
If those posts don’t cover enough bases for you, don’t worry. Versus will air a special one-hour preview for tonight’s Game 7 beginning at 8 p.m. ET. Enjoy tonight’s contest and remember, hockey fans: it’s OK if you must bite your nails, but stop if your fingers start to bleed.
* Unless this game turns out to be an epic multiple overtime affair, which would mean it would instead take several hours …