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Posted On Friday, 05.06.2011 / 1:00 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: San Jose-Detroit Live Blog

Red Wings paying high price for high-sticking calls

Detroit has been called for five high-sticking infractions in the first three games and the Sharks have scored power-play goals on two of them. The Sharks also won Game 1 in overtime on Benn Ferriero's goal just 20 seconds after Justin Abdelkader got out of the penalty box for a high-sticking double minor.

A high-sticking minor called on Darren Helm in Game 3 led to the first goal of the game, a power-play goal by Devin Setoguchi.

"We've just got to keep our sticks down," said Henrik Zetterberg, who was called for a high stick in Game 2. "Soon as it's up there, you have a chance to (get penalized) for four minutes or two. It can happen very easily if you have the sticks up high."
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Posted On Friday, 05.06.2011 / 12:58 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: San Jose-Detroit Live Blog

Red Wings curious about faceoff do's and don'ts

There have been a number of players kicked out of the faceoff circle before draws in this series and the Red Wings have taken notice -- especially when it comes to their own players getting the boot.

It especially was noticeable in Game 3 at Joe Louis Arena, when the Sharks won 53 percent of the faceoffs taken.

"It is tough for both teams to know what we're doing right and what we're doing wrong," Henrik Zetterberg said. "One time you get kicked out and next time you're not getting kicked out. It's a fine line there, but we've just got to adjust."

Kris Draper said the best way to deal with the issue is to make sure, if possible, there is more than one center on as many forward lines as possible.

"A lot of guys have been tossed out, probably the most I've seen in a while, in Game 3," Draper said. "It puts an onus on the importance of faceoffs. Both teams want to start with the puck, especially on the (penalty kill). Collectively, as a group, we have to be better."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.05.2011 / 4:30 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: San Jose-Detroit Live Blog

Detroit gaining confidence against Niemi

Sharks goalie Antti Niemi again made some big saves in key situations to keep the Red Wings at bay and give San Jose more time to find a way to win Game 3 in overtime.

Still, it wasn't his sharpest game of the series -- Niemi gave up three goals on 41 shots and allowed more rebounds than he'd given up in the first two games.

"We got to him a little bit (in Game 3) by shooting the puck a little bit more and having guys in front of the net and being there for those second chances," Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "That's something we have to build on."
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Posted On Thursday, 05.05.2011 / 4:26 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: San Jose-Detroit Live Blog

Red Wings scuffling on penalty kill

After the Sharks went 2-for-4 on the power play in Game 3 Wednesday, which led to a 4-3 overtime victory for San Jose, the Red Wings' penalty killing fell to just 73.3 percent (11 of 15).

Both of the Sharks' power-play goals in that game were scored by Devin Setoguchi, who finished with a hat trick and scored the game-winner in overtime at even strength -- shortly after San Jose's penalty-killing units killed off a Detroit power play.

The Red Wings also struggled a bit on the penalty kill in their first-round sweep of the Phoenix Coyotes. What's going on that's leading to this dip in effectiveness?

"They're just finding ways to get pucks on net and they're moving the puck really well," Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard said of the Sharks' power play Thursday. "I think we just need to stay in our spots, basically. Make them work the puck around the outside and not really give them anything in tight."

However, even that didn't work on the second of Setoguchi's power-play goals. Setoguchi was ready to blast a one-timer from the left circle when he shattered his stick on the shot and the puck slowly slid through traffic and into the net -- with Howard unable to get back after lunging to the left post in anticipation of the blast.

"What do you do, as a goalie, in that situation?" said Howard, who didn't even bother to look at replays of it. "He seemed just cocked and ready to let a bomb go, so that was the last thing in my mind that was going to happen. Pass came over. It was right in his wheel house and I rushed over strong expecting that one-timer. You've just got to keep going and concentrate on making the next save. Bounces happen."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.05.2011 / 3:23 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: San Jose-Detroit Live Blog

Nothing changing for Sharks entering Game 4

If history continues repeating itself, then the San Jose Sharks can look forward to playing a Game 5 against the Red Wings.

This series has been a carbon copy of the one these two teams played last year, with the Sharks holding a 3-0 lead after a come-from-behind overtime win in Game 3. Sharks coach Todd McLellan talked after the game about how his team could be in for the same 7-1 beatdown they absorbed in last year's Game 4 if they didn't improve following this year's Game 3, when they were outplayed by the Red Wings.

McLellan talked a bit about changing up his team's routine heading into this year's Game 4, but players said nothing has changed following Thursday's practice at Joe Louis Arena.

"You don't look back on last year," said Devin Setoguchi, the Game 3 hero with a hat trick and the overtime winner. "It's been a totally different run. We started out of the playoffs in January, last place in our division, and we clawed our way back up. We just turned ourself into a better hockey club. There's no comparison to last year.

"Guys prepare the same way. Some guys have prepared the same way for probably 15 years. I do the same thing every game. I don't look at it or function any differently than any other game in the regular season."

"We didn't talk too much about it," Dan Boyle said of last year's Game 4. "We haven't wanted to talk about the past, but you guys keep bringing it up. When you look at what happened last year, it's not like we didn't care. We probably went out and gave 90 percent. We're not going to spend too much time talking about it unless you guys keep asking."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Wednesday, 05.04.2011 / 1:47 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: San Jose-Detroit Live Blog

Draper in, Miller out for Red Wings

Calling it his only lineup change "at this time," Wings coach Mike Babcock announced after Wednesday's morning skate that veteran forward Kris Draper will play in Game 3 (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS [JIP], TSN2, RDS [JIP]) on the fourth line, with Patrick Eaves and center Darren Helm, while Drew Miller will be a healthy scratch for the first time in the series.

That means Mike Modano also likely will be a healthy scratch, for the third straight game, unless Babcock decides to put him into the lineup shortly before the game.

Draper, who will turn 40 on May 24, said sitting for the first two games a tough thing to swallow.

"I'll be honest with you, it's probably been one of the toughest things I've had to do in my career," said Draper, who is playing his 20th NHL season and 17th in Detroit. "Just like everybody else, I love this time of year. I love playing playoff hockey, but with that being said, I just tried to do all the right things for Game 1 and Game 2. Tried to do everything right. It's disappointing when you're not playing and it's frustrating when you lose a couple games. I guess Mike felt like there was going to be a change and I get to go tonight."

So what was it like having to sit and watch the Wings struggle offensively?

"You feel like … helpless," Draper said. "I try to do as much as I can to talk to the guys between periods, encourage guys, encourage the players and talk about some stuff that maybe guys saw. I just hung around the dressing room for both games. The bottom line is that everybody wants to be a part of this time of year and when you're not playing, it bothers you because you want to be a part of it. But it's not about me. It's not about one individual."

Likewise, he's impressed with how Modano has handled sitting so far. Modano, 40, has played just one game in the playoffs thus far and has said this could be his last NHL season.

"Mo's been unbelievable," said Draper. "For a guy who's going to be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer … Mike's done so many good things at this time of year and very similar, he and I both really enjoy playing playoff hockey. But we have a lot of depth on this team, and that's the one thing you realize."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.04.2011 / 1:42 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: San Jose-Detroit Live Blog

Rafalski misses Wings morning skate … or did he?

None of the reporters watching Detroit's optional skate at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday morning noticed Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski on the ice, but Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said he did participate.

If he didn't, it would be noteworthy because Rafalski also missed Tuesday's practice. Rafalski, who plans to play in Game 3 on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS [JIP], TSN2, RDS [JIP]), said missing Tuesday's workout was a maintenance day to take care of a nagging knee issue.

"Just a little swelling in the knee, getting it out and making sure it doesn't get aggravated anymore," he said. "Just getting ready for tonight."
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.03.2011 / 5:03 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: San Jose-Detroit Live Blog

Red Wings searching for puck control

It's the telltale sign of when Detroit is on top of its game.

Simply put, if you see the Red Wings spending long amounts of time in an opponent's zone -- finding ways to control the puck and put multiple shots on goal -- they're playing their best. In the first two games of this series, that hasn't been the case and Detroit was limited to just one goal in each 2-1 loss.

Thus, it was no surprise to hear the Red Wings talking about better puck control and playing faster after Tuesday's practice.

"We have to use our speed a lot more," captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "We have to be even more of a skating team and when we have the puck, hang onto it. We can't be taking one shot and then backchecking when it goes the other way. We've got to retrieve the puck after shots and spend more time in their zone."
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.03.2011 / 5:01 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: San Jose-Detroit Live Blog

'Pick your poison' with Datsyuk, Zetterberg

Much of the talk in both locker rooms after Tuesday's practices at Joe Louis Arena centered on whether the Red Wings will split up top-line superstars Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk or keep them together on the first line.

The Sharks said it doesn't really matter to them, because those two in particular are difficult to defend no matter how they're played.

"They're both high-end players and they're going to try and do different things to try to get a win," Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle said. "That might be one of those things that we see. I think we feel pretty confident with the six d-men we have back there that we don't have to overthink the matchups and on the forwards side, same thing. We've got some lines that can handle what they do."

Still, Zetterberg and Datsyuk can cause problems in a hurry if the Sharks don't stay as disciplined as they've been in their own zone for the first two games. That, said San Jose's Douglas Murray, is because the Red Wings' "Big Two" are both gifted with immense hockey intelligence.

"Pick your poison," Murray said. "They're both very skilled players. They might not be very big in stature, but they're strong on pucks and what sets them apart from a lot of people is they're so smart. You can't really defend them the same way all the time, because if you get stuck doing the same thing, they'll find a way to take advantage of it."

The way Murray described what it's like defending them, it sounds similar to the way the guards in the movie "Jurassic Park" tried to cage in the Velociraptors, which kept testing the high-voltage electric fence to see where its weakest points were.

"You almost got to play a little chess game with them, too," Murray said of Zetterberg and Datsyuk. "If you make the first move, they'll counter with something."
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.03.2011 / 4:56 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: San Jose-Detroit Live Blog

Sharks haven't forgotten Red Wings' mettle

Don't try to convince Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray that San Jose somehow wants to win worse than the Red Wings.

The Sharks have won 10 of the previous 12 meetings between the teams when you taking into consideration last year's playoff series and regular-season games, not to mention taking the first two games of this series.

Still, all Murray needs to do is look up at the many banners hanging in the rafters at Joe Louis Arena -- 11 of the Stanley Cup variety, four since 1997 -- to counter the Sharks "wanting it" more theory.

"After all their Stanley Cups in the rafters and on that team, I don't think you can question their want or will to go and get more," Murray said. "I think I've mentioned to them at some point, like, 'Well, you're probably getting tired of winning the Cup,' and they say, 'You never get tired of that.' They want it just as much as we do."

So then how does he explain San Jose's recent dominance -- especially the Sharks' ability to win a spate of one-goal nail-biters?

"They had our number for a long time before that and those were tight games then, too," Murray said. "Why did they win all the time? It's tough to explain. You can't say when the teams are so even, 'Oh, that team is much better.' It could be a confidence thing. It could be a swagger thing. I really don't know. I don't have an answer for it … but I hope it keeps going."
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Quote of the Day

You could see out there that everybody was willing to compete, to sacrifice, even blocking shots to the end. Even in the third when we were up 5-0, guys were still working hard and blocking shots That's a nice feeling also for the future.

— Flames goalie Jonas Hiller after his team's 5-0 win over Carolina
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