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Morning Skate: Wings heading West

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I just like this picture.
I just like this picture.

The Red Wings head out to the West Coast for a three game series that starts tonight with the San Jose Sharks, continues with Anaheim on Friday and wraps up with LA on Saturday. This could be a chance for the Wings to pick up a solid six points against some teams that have struggled at times this year. However, they also need to avoid any losing stretch that could kill the excellent momentum they have going right now.

San Jose is a tough team to figure out at this point of the season. They have a good portion of last year's team in place but they're not burning the NHL up like last year. In fact, the Sharks are barely above the Kings for the Pacific Division cellar and have won only half of their games (11-7-4).

Last year the Sharks knocked the Red Wings out of the playoffs in 5 games so you can imagine that has left a sour taste in the collective mouth of the team. Will the Wings come out with high energy and push the pace early against the Sharks or will they sit back and play conservatively?

Fear The Fin is the SB Nation home of the Sharks.

More after the jump.

  • Jimmy Howard will start his 13th game in a row. Howard has started every single game in the month of November and for the month he's averaging about 2.58 goals a game. The goals allowed aren't exactly stellar but can you argue with a 9-2-1 record? Nope.
  • We all know how frustrating the playoff series against the Sharks was last year. Hopefully, the Wings use that as motivation and come out and absolutely kick some ass. Hopefully, we'll have another Mule-trick to celebrate.
  • A bit of a tough read on Modano's injury, I can't help but feel bad for him as he was finally getting in the swing of things. [Freep]
  • Dany Heatley is leading the Sharks offensively with 11 goals and 24 points. Jumbo Joe is close behind with 22 points and Dr. Eyebrows is behind him with 21 points. Who do you consider to be the biggest offensive threat of the Sharks?
  • I guess losing Manny Malhotra didn't ruin the Sharks' face-off percentage that much as they're second in the NHL right now, winning 55.0% of their opportunities. Detroit is fourth in the league with a 52.9% success rate.
  • Just like you, I forgot Jamal Mayers was still even in the league.
  • Who would you rather have on your team: Antero Niittymaki, Antti Niemi, or Evgeni Nabokov? Despite his postseason struggles (and KHL contract) I'd choose Nabokov I think.
  • The Sharks power play is still pretty good at 21.8% (8th) and their penalty kill is at 83.1% (14th). Detroit is at 10th in both categories. San Jose takes more minutes per game though so who wins this match-up?
  • Player of the game prediction: Justin Abdelkader. Since Graham gave us crap for not picking outside of the top 5...
  • Score prediction: 5-2. I think this is a chance for the Wings to really step up the offensive game tonight. San Jose's not the same without Blake and Niittymaki/Niemi is a big difference from Nabokov (yes, really).
  • Last night around the league: Pens downed the Rangers 3-1, Stars kept winning with a 4-1 decision over the Canes, the Oilers used a trio of 3rd period goals to beat the Senators 4-1, Iginla scored his 10th goal in the 3-0 Flames' win over the Wild, and Jonas Hiller shutout the Kings 2-0.