Take a deep breath Red Wings fans. It's time to do it all over again.
The Wings staved off elimination in emphatic fashion on Thursday, using Johan Franzen's four goal effort to rout the San Jose Sharks 7-1. Detroit still trails the series 3-1 however, and will need the same effort from Thursday and then some to knock off the Sharks tonight at HP Pavilion. Puck drop is at 10:00 p.m. EST on Versus.
- Speaking of Franzen, his hat trick the other night was the second-fastest three goals in NHL playoff history. Franzen potted three goals in a 3:26 span in the first period, just two seconds shy of Tim Kerr's all time record of 3:24, set in 1985. If Franzen tallies another point tonight, he'll match Gordie Howe for the longest post season point streak in Red Wings history at 11 games.
- Staying on that line, Todd Bertuzzi tied a Red Wing playoff record with four assists, which was previously done last by Nicklas Lidstrom in 2007. Bertuzzi went into a bit of a funk to start the playoffs, but produced a five(!) point night (1G, 4A) Thursday. Maybe a little shuffling is all he needs now and then.
- Mike Babcock shuffled the lines for Thursday, putting Todd Bertuzzi on a line with Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg. It seemed to work quite well, so I'd expect the same combinations for tonight.
- Jonathan Ericsson logged a game high 27:33 in Brad Stuart's absence on Thursday. Stuart sustained a lower body injury from a check on Rob Blake in Game 4, and along with Patrick Eaves is a question mark tonight. Ericsson didn't really do anything to turn any heads, which on most nights is a good sign. He didn't log any points and registered five hits
- Via Khan(!), Babcock said Eaves and Stuart will decide after the morning skate if they will play tonight. We''ll keep you updated on the situation. If neither can go, expect Mattias Ritola and Brett Lebda to take their places.
- The big goal differential on Thursday allowed Detroit to cut back on newly-40-year-old Nicklas Lidstrom's minutes. Lidstrom played just 21:17, a far cry from the near 30-minute showings we're used to.
- Jimmy Howard rebounded nicely, stopping 28 of 29 shots in picking up the win. Howard had allowed four goals in each of the previous three games, and looked especially shaky in the Game 3 loss. Howard will need to turn in a similar performance tonight to extend the series.
- The penalty situation on Thursday was a complete reversal from the previous three contests. In all, 26 penalties were issued, with the Sharks racking up 49 penalty minutes and the Red Wings with 33. Expect a much more disciplined contest tonight, as the Wings try to avoid elimination and the Sharks try to avoid blowing a chance to close out the series at home.
More after the jump
- Evgeni Nabokov had a rough outing, allowing five goals on just nine shots and was pulled to start the second period. Don't expect Thomas Greiss in net tonight; Nabokov didn't get any help at all on Thursday and is the Sharks' unquestioned starter.
- Joe Thornton had a particularly rough night for the Sharks. Thornton took four penalties, including a game misconduct, in the third period. Thornton has long been the scapegoat for the Sharks playoff struggles, and the 7-1 beatdown the Wings put on his team couldn't have sat well with him.
- After dominating the first two games, Joe Pavelski went silent upon arriving in Detroit. Pavelski only tallied one assist in Motown after notching six points (4 goasl, 2 assists) in San Jose. Perhaps not having an extended 5-on-3 to work with played a part.
- Pierre LeBrun wonders if the Wings' outburst in Game 4 was the start of something big or just a blip on the Sharks' radar.
- Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News notes that the Sharks' Game 4 disaster brought back bad memories of failed post seasons past.
- Fear the Fin is your SBNation Sharks counterpart.
UPDATE 7:06pm EST: Brad Stuart said he's optimistic that he'll play tonight, but remains a game-time decision. Patrick Eaves on the other hand will miss his fourth straight game. Babcock will use the same lineup as Game 4, which means that Mattias Ritola will be in the lineup for the second straight game. Brett Lebda will take Stuart's spot if he can't go.