Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Momentum on side, job not done: Wings

Categories: Detroit Red Wings, SJS vs. DET, San Jose Sharks

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Detroit Red Wings' Pavel Datsyuk, left, battles for a puck against San Jose Sharks' Dany Heatley during Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinal. Game 7 is Thursday in San Jose. (Duane Burleson/Associated Press) Detroit Red Wings' Pavel Datsyuk, left, battles for a puck against San Jose Sharks' Dany Heatley during Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinal. Game 7 is Thursday in San Jose. (Duane Burleson/Associated Press)

They are on the brink of Stanley Cup history, but what's keeping the Detroit Red Wings focused as they approach Game 7 of their Western Conference semifinal series with the San Jose Sharks Thursday at HP Pavilion is the same thing that's motivated them since falling behind 3-0 in the series.

That if they lose a game, they will be history.

"We're one win away from moving on, but we're also one loss away from not playing anymore in the playoffs," Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "We know what's at stake and our approach is going to be the same as in the last three games."

While three teams 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, the 1975 New York Islanders and the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers have rallied to win a best-of-seven set after falling behind 3-0, the Wings have never achieved such a comeback.

One step away from doing so, they are also aware that the 2011 Chicago Blackhawks, 1945 Red Wings, the 1939 New York Rangers and the 1975 Islanders in the next round after their miracle comeback of the previous series have come all the way back from 0-3 down only to lose in Game 7.

"We've gave ourselves a great opportunity here," Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader said. "To be at Game 7 after being down 0-3, it's pretty awesome, but we know the job's not done yet."

Staying the course

Even when they trailed 3-0, the Wings were able to maintain a belief system that they could come back, mainly due to their performance in the three one-goal losses to the Sharks.

"If you're down 3-0 in a series and you're not playing any good, there's no opportunity," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "But if you think you deserve better and you're playing well, I think it's easier to stick with it, and that's what's happened.

"All series long, I thought we've been a good team. Any of the games, it could have gone either way. Now we've got to go in there and win a game. We've just got to remain calm and understand what our plan is, be poised, and let our determination work for us."

Lineup changes?

Babcock indicated he planned to mull his Game 7 lineup options during the long journey to San Jose.

Possible changes could include the return of forward Johan Franzen (sprained left ankle) or the insertion of veteran checker Kris Draper (healthy scratch for Game 6).

"We'll take these five-and-a-half hours on the flight to kick everything around, Babcock said. I'm sure (Franzen) will try lobbying and we'll listen to him. We'll try to make the right decisions, but the only way you know you've made the right decisions are when you win."

He's a bad boy

With their season hanging by a thread as they clung to one-goal leads late in Games 5 and 6, the Wings were forced to kill off foolish penalties taken by Abdelkader, a problem that's plagued the young forward throughout the series.

Babcock held another heart-to-heart chat with Abdelkader to once more hammer home his message.

"I've told him two games in a row now," Babcock said. "'You've got to decide are you going to be one of those guys who their whole career gets penalties at a bad time, or are you going to look after it?'

"He's a great kid, a good teammate, and he's going to get it looked after."

Reeling in the past

Wings centre Mike Modano can relate to what the Sharks must be feeling at the moment. During the opening round of the 1992 playoffs, Modano's Minnesota North Stars raced to a 3-1 series lead over Lidstrom's Red Wings, only to squander it by losing the last three games.

Modano succinctly recalled how fragile the atmosphere grew in their dressing room with each setback.

"You're a little nervous, because you know they're coming and their confidence is building," Modano said. "So we knew at 3-1, that we needed to play a spectacular, perfect game from start to finish. Otherwise, we were in trouble.

"Then it's just bad break after bad break and we're just looking for something to put a tourniquet on the hemorrhage, because it was coming, and you could just feel it. It was like an avalanche. And once it got going and their main guys started playing, we knew we were in trouble."

Here are the results from all seven previous best-of-seven series which saw a team force a Game 7 after going down 3-0:

Year 0-3 Team 3-0 Team Game 7 Result
2011 Red Wings Sharks ??????
2011 Blackhawks Canucks Canucks 2, Blackhawks 1
2010 Flyers Bruins Flyers 4, Bruins 3
1975 Islanders Flyers Flyers 4, Isles 1
1975 Islanders Penguins Isles 1, Penguins 0
1945 Red Wings Maple Leafs Leafs 2, Wings 1
1942 Maple Leafs Red Wings Leafs 3, Wings 1
1939 Rangers Bruins Bruins 2, Rangers 1, 3OT

Hope for Clowe

Ryane Clowe took morning treatment for his unannounced concussion, is expected to skate tomorrow if he continues to improve and barring complications is more likely than not to be in the lineup Thursday night.

As a result, there was no news or suggestions on line changes, because the decision on Clowe becomes the decision that makes all the others.

Beyond that, the Sharks worked out at their practice facility. They are relying on their short memory spans and history of comebacks while being debased as their ticket out of their current three-game losing streak.

It's their longest skid since March 14, when they lost in shootouts to Vancouver and the New York Rangers, and in regulation to Chicago. Tuesday's loss was only their 11th in regulation since Jan. 14, and they are still looking for a third regulation time win in the post-season.

No other injuries were reported after Game 6, or in what was a fairly light and unusual pre-Game 7 workout.

San Jose is trying to become the fifth team to blow a 3-0 lead but survive and advance. Before Vancouver did it in the first round of these playoffs, the New York Islanders managed it in 1975, the first post-World War II team to do so.

SAN JOSE LINES (speculative)

Patrick Marleau-Joe Thornton-Devin Setoguchi
Ryane Clowe-Logan Couture-Dany Heatley
Torrey Mitchell-Joe Pavelski-Kyle Wellwood
Jamie McGinn-Scott Nichol-Benn Ferriero

Douglas Murray-Dan Boyle
Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Jason Demers
Ian White-Niclas Wallin

Antti Niemi
Antero Niittymaki