Western Conference semifinals: Red Wings-Sharks; Who do you have?

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After seeing a handful of rematch series in the first round, it’s only fair we get one in the Western Conference semifinals. This time around when San Jose faces Detroit, we’re expecting things to be a bit more even between these teams this year. Last season, the Sharks took out the Red Wings in five games as the Sharks soared through the round after getting past Colorado while the Red Wings had to fight tooth and nail to get past Phoenix in the opening round.

This year, the path to their match-up is similar in that the Sharks had to fight with the Kings to get out of the first round. This year, Detroit was able to cruise past the Coyotes with little trouble at all. One thing Detroit didn’t have in that opening series with Phoenix was Henrik Zetterberg and it’s shaping up that he’ll be ready to go against the Sharks. With Zetterberg joining Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom once again, it’s scary to think of what the Wings might be able to put together with a healthy compliment of players. While Johan Franzen is still dealing with his facial and head injuries after going face first into the boards, the Wings’ first round performance was enough to leave us intimidated.

The Sharks, meanwhile, looked strong at most positions on the ice with one glaring exception in goal. Antti Niemi had a bit of a rough go of things against the once offensively challenged Kings. How he handles himself against the Red Wings is more than worth watching because it could boil down to how both he and Jimmy Howard can handle their opponents potent attacks. The Sharks got clutch work out of Joe Thornton in the first round while the real hero was Ryane Clowe leading the Sharks in scoring. Those guys along with Logan Couture, Dany Heatley, and Patrick Marleau will need to be huge. Red Wings thorn in the side Devin Setoguchi sets up to be a major factor as well. Go ahead and just ask Wings fans for their opinion of him.

How does the series shake out? We’re expecting it to be a memorable one destined to go six or seven games. Do you feel the same way? Let us know in our poll and in the comments.