Tonight the Red Wings play host to the San Jose Sharks, who’s making their final trip to Joe Louis Arena. The Red Wings are coming off a 5-3 victory over the Nashville Predators to push them to 3-2-0 in the young season. The San Jose Sharks come in with a similar 3-2-0 record and wrap up their Eastern Conference road trip a visit to the Joe. Last game saw the Sharks drop their Stanley Cup rematch with the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2. For this game we had to bring in a good friend of ours. Ian from Pucknology gave us some insight on the Sharks and his thoughts on tonight’s game.
Both the Sharks and Red Wings 5 games into the season. What are some things (both good and bad) that you have noticed?
Ian: For the Sharks it has been a lack of consistency which has lead to some really odd line combinations by Peter DeBoer as games have gone on. An eastern road trip to start the season has proven to be somewhat grueling for the Sharks so far and they have had some pretty uneven efforts. They came out pretty flat against the Rangers and coughed up a two goal lead after a dominant two period performance against the Penguins. On the positive side the Sharks 2nd line of Mikkel Boedker, Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi has been the Sharks best line by far and the top line of Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl have already combined for 15 points. Brent Burns leads the team with 9 points.
Matt: Well I’ll start it off with the bad. For the Red Wings, they’ve looked surprisingly slow defending. I see defenders like Danny DeKeyser, Alexey Marchenko, and others are walked by forwards. The first two games were just head scratchers; however the team has looked better and better the last three games. The Power Play has looked to be pretty effective, defensemen are more involved offensively, and the team has a bit more fight to them. Right now they lead the NFL in fighting majors at 5, last year they only had 8 all season so that’s pretty shocking to see. I think a concern for me is the amount of time spent in their own zone and the lack of shots on goal. Although it’s early in the season, the lack of offense generated in 5-v-5 needs to be fixed.
What players have impressed you in thus far in the season?
Ian: Brent Burns has been somewhat of a double edged sword for the Sharks and while some of his defensive play has been a little rough to start on the offensive side of the puck he has picked up where he left off in a quest for another Norris nomination. The pending UFA already has 3 goals and 6 assists this season and is always a threat to score from just about anywhere on the ice.
Matt: To keep the defenseman trend going with Ian, Mike Green has looked really good thus far. He’s active offensively from the blue line and taking more shots, which is something I’ve been YELLING for on past podcast. Green has 3 goals and 4 assist, the three goals game from his first career hat trick against Ottawa on Monday. Green won’t really score a ton of goals but to see him active offensively is great.
Give us that one under the radar player that Fans from both teams should know about for the upcoming game?
Ian: Tommy Wingels is currently centering the fourth line after not playing the position since college. While he has not been amazing in the faceoff dot a line expected to be terrible by many has actually been decent. The skills of Matt Nieto and Melker Karlsson have found some chemistry which isn’t bad for a couple of guys that Sharks fans wanted to launch into the sun.
Matt: There’s a number of guys who really been playing pretty well, If we’re talking under the radar then it has to be Darren Helm. During the off-season a lot of Red Wings fans, including myself, questioned the decision to bring him back. Right now Helm has scored 4 goals in 5 games and leads the team in scoring. Helm has played a huge part in games with his speed and now aggressive approach to the game by shooting more. I have to give Helm a lot of credit, He’s a huge part in making that third line click.
What are some strengths and glaring weaknesses on this Sharks/Red Wings team.
Ian: This is going to sound homerish but I really don’t know if the Sharks have an obvious weakness thus far so I’m going to go with special teams as the Sharks are currently sitting 18% on the PP and and 69 % on a PK. If there is a weakness in their game with now that’s where it is.
Matt: Sustaining pressure in the opposing zone. The Red Wings has had a hard time generating shots on goal due to the abundance of passing and dump and chase strategy which leads to them being on their heels majority of the time. Last night’s game was the one game this season where I saw Detroit out shoot a team and sustain some type of zone pressure. As far as strengths I would have to say their special teams as well. In 5 games the Red Wings are third in the NHL on the Power Play at 31.6%. They’re moving around more on the power play and getting quality chances, which wasn’t a thing at all last year. The Penalty Kill however hasn’t looked too amazing, but they’re doing a solid job ay using their speed to create more shorthanded scoring chances. The PK is at 68.4%, which is a point below the Sharks.
Key X-Factors to Saturday’s game.
Ian: The Sharks need to play their style of strong possession play use their strong cycle to put pressure on one of the least deep defensive pools in the league. They have a history of being able to get to Howard should he get the start or put enough shots on Mrazek that he’ll let a few in based on the volume of shots. It’s the end of a long road trip though so it will be interesting to see what the Sharks have left in the tank.
Matt: Detroit is on the second half of their back to back, which means Jimmy Howard will be in net. Last start he was outstanding, but at the same time the Wings spent too much time in their own zone. They can’t afford to do that against this San Jose team, Detroit has to alleviate some pressure off Howard and create that on Jones. That means shoot, shoot, shoot. Jones is the type of goalie who will get better as the game goes. They also have to use their speed to their advantage and force the Sharks to play their game. San Jose has a history with getting physical with the Wings and the result hardly turns out well on Detroit’s end.
One Bold Prediction.
Ian: Sharks put 40 shots or more on goal.
Matt: I’m going to go on a limb and say that Luke Glendening will score a goal tonight so Kayla won’t kill me.