Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Sharks go for franchise's 1st ever sweep

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

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San Jose forward Logan Couture, right, battles with Detroit forward Pavel Datsyuk during the Western Conference semifinal series. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) San Jose forward Logan Couture, right, battles with Detroit forward Pavel Datsyuk during the Western Conference semifinal series. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The only issue to come up after Friday's morning skate for San Jose, in which Todd McLellan said he planned no lineup or line alterations for the 7 p.m. ET drop, was the seemingly high number of face-off ejections in this series. McLellan figured that only made sense.

"We're like No.'s 2 and 3 in faceoffs in the regular season, we both like to think we're puck possession teams, and we're both very competitive in the circle," he said, "so sometimes you'll see guys jumping quicker, and you'll see some battles before the puck hits the ice. The linesmen have done a good job keeping that sorted out."

San Jose is still first on draws in the postseason, at 54.5 per cent, and Detroit is seventh at 50.2. In the series, the Sharks are winning 52.4 per cent of the draws (98 of 187), and the two best face-off men have been, as expected, Datsyuk (33 of 60, 55 per cent) and Joe Thornton (32 of 58, 55.1).

The only actual development for San Jose is that Logan Couture's parents got their expired passport issues resolved so that they can attend tonight's game.

"My dad was pretty fired up,'' Couture said. "My parents, my brother and some of their friends will be here tonight.''

Other than that, the Sharks' status is profoundly quo for Friday night. McLellan did say he would skate two extra players in the warmup just as a precaution, but in all likelihood, Benn Ferriero and Jamal Mayers will remain the wings on Scott Nichol's fourth line.

One historical note on the way out: If the Sharks complete their-ever series sweep (they beat Nashville four straight after losing Game 1 in 2006), the Red Wings will become the first team in 18 years to sweep one series and lose the next in four straight since the 1993 Sabres beat Boston and lost to Montreal in the minimum eight games. Six of the eight games went to overtime.

Sharks lineup

Patrick Marleau-Joe Thornton-Devin Setoguchi
Ryane Clowe-Logan Couture-Dany Heatley
Torrey Mitchel-Joe Pavelski-Kyle Wellwood
Jamal Mayers-Scott Nichol-Benn Ferriero

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

Antti Niemi
Antero Niittymaki

RED WINGS

Why not us? That's become the mantra of the Detroit Red Wings as they prepared for Game 4.

Only three teams have rallied from such a disadvantage in Stanley Cup history, but even that small case sample is enough to give the Wings some hope. The one thing is, it hasn't been done a lot, but it's not impossible, Detroit centre Kris Draper said. It has been done.

We're well aware of what went on with Chicago. In the opening playoff round, the Blackhawks rallied from a 3-0 deficit to force a Game 7 before succumbing to the Vancovuer Canucks.

"All they wanted to do was win one game and create some momentum and see what would happen," Draper said. "They did that and they forced a Game 7. Are we capable of it? Yeah. Why not us? Do we believe we can do it? Yeah."

Modano out

Wings coach Mike Babcock indicated he'd go with the same lineup as in Game 3, meaning veteran Mike Modano, who shares the Stanley Cup goal-scoring lead with Boston's Mark Recchi at 58, will again be a healthy scratch.

"I'm not playing, so hopefully, we can extend this and bring it back to San Jose," said Modano, who found out as he arrived for Friday's morning skate that he wouldn't be going in Game 4.

"The lineup's on the board every morning, so you just take a peek at it on the way to grabbing a coffee, so you know where you're at," Modano said. "It's as simple as that."

Hobbled mule

Despite an injured left ankle which has hampered his mobilty, Babcock opted to stick with forward Johan Franzen, who scored four goals in Game 4 against the Sharks in last spring's second round, game that produced Detroit's only win of that series, a 7-1 verdict.

"The great thing about the Mule is he doesn't need whole lot of chances or a whole lot of room," Babcock said. "It's harder for him to create room for himself no question, because he's not skating like he normally does. A goal scorer's still got to be able to get open."

In saying that, who says he doesn't get open a little tonight?

Future watch

With Modano and Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom already past 40 and Draper turning 40 in three weeks, suggestions whether this could be their last games as Red Wings were raised.

"We don't need to talk about that," Draper said.

Lidstrom also put discussion of his future plans on the back burner.

"It's tough to answer," he said. "I'm going to wait until this season is over and then make a decision on what I want to do."

Modano, who strongly hinted at retirement earlier in the playoffs, was far more reflective on his plans.

"I've been doing that for three years," he said of reflecting on his career. "Each summer, I think to myself that I could muster up one year, try to have a nice positive, fun year, something I could be happy about and content with leaving at that point, but I've been still trying to find that."

OT woes

While San Jose has gone 5-0 in overtime games this spring, including a 4-3 victory over the Wings in Game 3, Detroit isn't so found of taking the game past 60 minutes. The Wings have lost their last three playoff OT games all to the Sharks and are 8-18 in Stanley Cup overtime since 2000.

:They've been very patient in overtime, haven't opened themselves up, are playing their game, waiting for chances," Lidstrom said of the Sharks. "And they jump on them when they get them."

Babcock summed it up in simpler terms: "They're finding a way to score in overtime, he said. That's what goal scorers do. They shoot it in the net. And they've got lots of them."

Down and out

They talk bravely, but when the Wings fall behind 3-0 in a playoff series, history has not proven kind to them. The Wings came close to rallying once, during the 1945 Stanley Cup final, which the Wings took to seven games after losing the first three against Toronto, falling 2-1 in Game 7.

On 10 previous occasions when Detroit has trailed a best-of-seven series 3-0, the club has been swept eight times. Last season's five-game loss to the Sharks was the only other time the Wings avoided going out in four straight.

"You've got to keep these things away from your head, go out and play, and win a hockey game," Detroit forward Jiri Hudler said. "Win one hockey game. That's all that matters now. Win tonight."