Tag: Red Wings-Sharks

Nicklas Lidstrom

Red Wings retirement bits: Nicklas Lidstrom might decide by July 1, Mike Modano still thinking

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If Nicklas Lidstrom really did play his final game in that thrilling Game 7 against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, then he finished his career as one of the best at his position. There aren’t many athletes who can claim that they went out of their sports on top, but Lidstrom would be able to do just that.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that the stupendous Swede is going to hang up his skates. The Detroit Red Wings announced that Lidstrom expects to make his choice on July 1, which is the first day for unrestricted free agency.

The team also stated that Mike Modano “will take his time to decide as well.” It would be a bit surprising to see Modano lace ’em up again, but many expected his emotional last game with the Dallas Stars to be his final NHL contest, too.

The Red Wings went out of the 2011 playoffs fighting, as every San Jose Sharks fan finished Game 7 holding their breath. The team itself looks like it has plenty left in the tank, but we’ll have to wait some time to find out if Lidstrom and Modano think they have enough fuel for the 2011-12 season.

Your one-stop source for Sharks-Red Wings Game 7 content

Pavel Datsyuk, Torrey Mitchell

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:

Want some other “bigger picture” stories about the Red Wings and Sharks? Check these posts out.

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 …

Red Wings hold significant Game 7 experience advantage over Sharks

Nicklas Lidstrom

All that really matters is what happens tonight – not what happened in the previous six games, not anymore, at least – but there’s no denying that the Detroit Red Wings hold some advantages over the San Jose Sharks.

One is the looseness that comes with not having to worry about being on the wrong side of history. The other is another kind of history: Red Wings players have almost twice as much Game 7 experience as the Sharks. In fact, according to an NHL.com report, every Red Wings player has some Game 7 experience.

It shouldn’t be too surprising, really, considering Detroit’s 20-year run of playoff appearances (with many of them running deep). While 11 Sharks players have played in a Game 7 before, 21 Red Wings have been in this situation.* Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is 2-2 in his coaching career in Game 7s while Sharks coach Todd McLellan is 0-0.

Perhaps most telling is the Game 7 scoring statistics. Nicklas Lidstrom leads Detroit with seven points in Game 7 situations with two goals and five assists while Niclas Wallin is the Sharks’ most experienced player in Game 7s, having played in four in his career. San Jose’s Cup-winning goalie Antti Niemi managed to accomplish that feat without playing a single Game 7.

Here’s a bit more from NHL.com.

Scoring in Game 7s is no different. The Red Wings have scored 17 goals and 39 points in their plethora of Game 7s, while the Sharks have tallied just 3 goals and 4 points in their 11. Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard also has one Game 7 to his credit, beating the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round last season, while neither San Jose goalie — Antti Niemi or backup Antero Niittymaki — has played in an NHL Game 7.

This will be Mike Modano’s first Game 7 with Detroit, but he’s played in plenty of them during his lengthy and impressive career with the Dallas Stars.

“The nerves are very high, obviously,” he said. “You just want to be quick, you want to be precise in what you do, you want to be very direct in your play as far as with the puck and without it. Ultimately you want to skate, you want to relax and take the plays that are there and not force the issue, especially on the road. I’ve never been in one on the road, so it’s just about playing smart.”

It’s also about enjoying the moment and the nail-biting that comes with it.

“Those Game 7s have a lot of drama,” Modano said. “Every shot, every save and everything that happens out there is magnified.”

Almost every playoff game brings its unique excitements, but few things match the scale and suspense of Game 7. We’ll keep you informed and entertained right up until the first nail-biting puck drop (and beyond).

* – Well, not this exact situation, since the Red Wings have never come back from a 3-0 deficit before.

Red Wings face elimination once again vs. the Sharks in Game 6

Detroit Red Wings v San Jose Sharks - Game Five

The San Jose Sharks face three scenarios going into tonight’s Game 6 against the Red Wings in Detroit:

1. They can win tonight and rest until Sunday’s Game 1 against the Vancouver Canucks.
2. They can win a stressful Game 7 on Thursday, robbing them of two extra nights of rest.
3. They can lose both games and become just the fourth team in NHL history to lose a series after building a 3-0 lead, undeniably etching them in history as some of the biggest “chokers” the sport has ever seen.

The Canucks avoided another near-collapse by finishing off the Nashville Predators last night, but the Sharks might face even more pressure in this Game 6. The Red Wings managed to win Game 5 thanks to frantic (yet borderline inevitable?) comeback from a 3-1 third period deficit, so the choking calls are already building. It’s hard not to wonder if the Sharks would be a little tight in a Game 7 considering the collective psyche of their team and fans.

San Jose @ Detroit (Versus) – 8 p.m. ET; Sharks lead series 3-2

Both teams will be without key contributors as Ryane Clowe didn’t make the trip to Detroit and Johan Franzen won’t play because of an ankle injury. Mike Modano will suit up in Franzen’s place for what might be the future Hall of Famer’s final game.

All five games in this series were decided by one goal, so it’ll be interesting to see if we’re in for another close contest.

Interestingly enough, Stats Inc. points out that the Sharks hope to avoid repeating history from 2002 while the Red Wings are hoping to repeat it. That playoff year marked the last time the Sharks gave up a 3-2 series lead and the most recent instance in which Detroit came back from that exact deficit. Both teams experienced those moments against the Colorado Avalanche, by the way.

While Sharks fans might cringe at a possible Game 7 while Red Wings fans are hoping for at least one more game, the rest of the hockey world would probably be delighted to see two more games between these teams.

There won’t be any NHL playoff hockey until Saturday, anyway, so why not?

Report: Mike Modano will take Johan Franzen’s spot in Red Wings lineup

Detroit Red Wings v Phoenix Coyotes - Game Four
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The San Jose Sharks will play without their big, talented forward Ryane Clowe but the Detroit Red Wings will reportedly try to survive without Johan Franzen. “The Mule” will sit out with his recurring ankle problems in favor of Mike Modano, according to TSN.

It’s no shocker that Franzen won’t play in Game 6. To put it lightly, the dangerous playoff performer just couldn’t get around properly in Game 5 and many other points in this series. He was really laboring around and could occasionally be seen limping. You have to respect Franzen’s toughness, but I’m not sure how much he could help the Red Wings with that injury curtailing much of his usefulness.

If nothing else, Modano will be much more mobile than Franzen. We feared that Modano might end his career as a healthy scratch, but he will get at least one more playoff game under his belt tonight (barring unforeseen changes). Modano had one assist in his one playoff appearance this year and 15 points in 40 regular season games before an unlucky injury forced him to miss half the season. If San Jose beats Detroit, it would be surprising if this wasn’t Modano’s last NHL game … but you never know.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, all signs point to Pavel Datsyuk playing again tonight. His ailments didn’t seem to keep him from being his world-class self in Game 5, so it’s not too surprising.