Game 39 Preview: Detroit Red Wings at San Jose Sharks

Jan 5, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; The Red Wings beat the Kings 4-0 on Thursday. Can they keep it up against the Sharks? Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 5, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; The Red Wings beat the Kings 4-0 on Thursday. Can they keep it up against the Sharks? Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Red Wings continue their West Coast trip with a trip to the Bay Area. Coming off an impressive shutout victory against the Kings in LA, can the Wings make it two in a row?

Road trips to the West Coast are never easy. Teams are hundreds of miles from families and fans, all while playing three hours later than usual. It doesn’t get easier because the Wings play three games in four nights, including the Pacific Division’s two best teams. This 3-game stretch is couched in a longer 7-game road trip, the Wings’ longest of the season. A win tonight would make three during this excessive trip which ends next Thursday.

The Basics

Detroit Red Wings (17-17-5, 7th in Atlantic) and San Jose Sharks (23-14-2, 2nd in Pacific)

SAP Center at San Jose | 10:30pm EST

Projected Goalies: DET-Petr Mrazek (9-9-3, 3.06 GAA, 0.897 save pct.); SJ-Martin Jones (19-13-2, 2.19 GAA, 0.917 save pct.)

San Jose Leaders: Points: Brent Burns, 37; Goals: Brent Burns, 15; Assists: Joe Thornton, 23.

Detroit Leaders: Points: Henrik Zetterberg, 28; Goals: Dylan Larkin, 11; Assists: Henrik Zetterberg, 21.

TV: FS-Detroit +

Radio: WXYT: check your local listings

Line: San Jose -200

Enemy Blog: Blades of Teal

Recent History

The Stanley Cup runners-up Sharks are demonstrating that they are fully capable to make another run through the Western Conference in June. Despite dropping three games in a row, the Sharks are still neck-and-neck for first in the division. The Red Wings, on the other hand, have not won two consecutive games since December 6th. They have, however, had success against the Sharks earlier in the season. The Wings won at home by a score of 3-0 in the sixth game of the year (October 22). Tonight’s match-up is the second and final meeting between the two teams in the 2016-17 campaign.

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Keys to the Game

Both Detroit’s and San Jose’s offense has been sluggish this season. Neither team has more scored more than 100 goals, putting both in the league’s bottom ten. The Red Wings have perked up recently, though. They have scored more than their average goals per game (2.36) in five of the last six games. Meanwhile, the Sharks have not been scoring enough. Their current three-game losing streak? All decided by one goal.

With both offenses down this season, expect this to be a defensive game. Here, the Sharks may have a bit of an advantage. The 87 goals allowed is good for fourth best in the NHL. The Red Wings defense has not been bad, but injuries have added up. Mike Green, Niklas Kronwall, and Brendan Smith will all be absent tonight.

This Sharks’ defensive advantage is due in large part to goalie, Martin Jones. The guy is a workhorse, playing in 34 of 39 games. Throughout those games, he is sixth in the league in saves made and ninth in average goals against. Petr Mrazek has been solid in his starts; he just needs some goal support, and he could have a few more wins.

"In that respect, Red Wings’ goalies are not all that different from Tigers’ starting pitchers across town."

The Sharks are desperate for a win right now. They have lost three straight games–including both halves of a home and home against the divisional rival Kings. Entering tonight’s game, the Sharks are two points behind the Anaheim Ducks for the first-place in the Pacific Division. Unfortunately, the Wings may have to wait a bit longer to get back on a win streak.

Prediction: Two less-than-stellar offenses make for a defensive game. San Jose over the Wings by a score of 2-0. Here’s hoping that score is flipped.