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Posted On Wednesday, 05.11.2011 / 2:38 PM

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

No news on potential Detroit lineup changes

Detroit coach Mike Babcock said that he would consider any lineup changes for Game 7 on the long plane ride to San Jose.

That means there might be a chance Johan Franzen plays in Game 7 after missing Game 6 because of an ankle injury. Mike Modano played for him on Tuesday in Game 6 and might also be called upon. Veteran Kris Draper was also a healthy scratch in Game 6 after playing in the middle three games of the series.

"We'll take these five-and-a-half hours on the flight to kick everything around," Babcock said. "I'm sure (Franzen) will try lobbying and we'll listen to him. We'll try to make the right decisions, but the only way you know you've made the right decisions are when you win. We'll try to make the right decision on the right players."
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Posted On Wednesday, 05.11.2011 / 2:36 PM

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

Modano gives glimpse of what Sharks might be feeling

It's been almost 20 years since the Red Wings came back from a 3-1 deficit against the then-Minnesota North Stars to win a first-round series, but Mike Modano still remembers what it felt like to lose that series. He was asked on Wednesday morning about the mood in the Minnesota locker room as Detroit made its comeback, and might've offered an idea of what the Sharks feel after dropping three straight to erase a 3-0 lead in this series.

"Well, you're a little nervous because you know they're coming and their confidence is building," said the 40-year old Modano, a Westland, Mich., native who was just 21 at the time. We knew at 3-1 we needed to play a spectacular, perfect game from start to finish. Otherwise, we were in trouble."

They were right, as it turned out.

"Just bad break after bad break, and we're just looking for something to put a tourniquet on a hemorrhage because it was coming," Modano said. "You could just feel it. It was just like an avalanche. Once they got going and their main guys started playing, we knew we were in trouble."
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Posted On Wednesday, 05.11.2011 / 2:27 PM

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

Bertuzzi the quote machine?

Detroit power forward Todd Bertuzzi isn't usually the most quotable figure in the Red Wings' locker room, but he had a couple of zingers on Wednesday at the airport before leaving for San Jose.

In talking about playing Game 7 on Thursday and the excitement that comes along with it, Bertuzzi said: "It's the first time I've seen guys that excited to get on a plane for seven hours."

Then, when asked if he thinks the Red Wings might get injured forward Johan Franzen (sore ankle) back for Game 7, Bertuzzi quipped: "Who knows? I thought we were leaving yesterday, so it shows how much I know what's going on around here."
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Posted On Wednesday, 05.11.2011 / 2:15 PM

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

Bad penalties plaguing Abdelkader

It's been a rough series for Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader, who has taken a number of penalties at inopportune times.

His latest troubling infraction came late in Game 6 on Tuesday with the Red Wings clinging to a 2-1 lead and needing the win to push the series to Game 7. He was called for holding and put Detroit's penalty kill units plus goalie Jimmy Howard in a sticky situation.

Detroit killed it off, but it was a long 2:00 in the penalty box for Abdelkader.

"I'm still thinking about it," he said on Wednesday morning, before boarding the team plane. "You don't want your team shorthanded when you're up like that in the third period. You think about it and hopefully learn from it and won't do it again. It's not a fun feeling, I'll tell you that much. It's just a long two minutes."

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said he had another chat about committing penalties at bad times – the second such conversation the two have had in this series.

"I just told him, two games in a row now, 'You've got to decide … are you going to be one of those guys that their whole career takes a bad penalty at the wrong time or are you going to look after it?'" Babcock said. "He's a great kid and a great teammate and he's going to get it looked after."
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.10.2011 / 4:38 PM

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

Babcock further explains his 'drivetrain' analogy for Datsyuk

It was the perfect symbolism for the coach of the Motor City's hockey team to make.

Babcock was asked after Game 5, a 4-3 win by the Red Wings, what allowed Detroit center Pavel Datsyuk able to overcome a rumored wrist injury to dish out three impressive assists at crucial moments in the game. In short, Babcock said player like Datsyuk have a "drivetrain" that other players don't always have, which allows them to turn it up a notch in the playoffs.

Babcock was asked to expand on that analogy after Tuesday's morning skate and said that "drivetrain" can be installed, so to speak, by hard work and determination.

"I think for sure it can be taught," Babcock said. "When you come to a team like the Detroit Red Wings, when you arrive, Steve Yzerman's like that or Nick Lidstrom's like that. Pavel Datsyuk is an absolute workaholic on and off the ice. It's not by accident that these guys are this good. It's because they work that hard."

Babcock then cited how hard Datsyuk works on and off the ice to keep his 32-year old body in shape and to keep honing his already jaw-dropping array of skills at both ends of the ice.

"To me, that's what separates him," Babcock said. "There's lots of nice players in the league, but they don't get to play long at the end of the year, because it's not about being a nice player. It's about winning your battle every time you're on the ice. There's no space and there's no room and the ice gets worse as the year goes on, so it's not about being pretty and it's not about open ice, or about who looks good in practice with no pressure on him. It's who can make a play in a small area and win a battle. To me, that's the game."
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.10.2011 / 4:26 PM

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

Red Wings not acknowledging Datsyuk injury

It's already one of the worst-kept secrets in sports and is starting to border on comical. Multiple reports say that Detroit star center Pavel Datsyuk has a hand or wrist injury that is preventing him from taking faceoffs.

Datsyuk was even termed "questionable" before Game 5 in San Jose on the Versus pre-game broadcast before recording three assists in the Red Wings' impressive come-from-behind 4-3 win to extend the series to Tuesday night's Game 6 at Joe Louis Arena.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock was asked if Datsyuk's wrist was the reason he didn't take any faceoffs in Game 5, and Babcock tried to deflect attention from it by sheepishly stating that Datsyuk wasn't very good at draws before stating the truth: "He's our best faceoff guy."

Then Datsyuk denied he was even injured at all when the Wings returned from San Jose on Monday.

"What wrist?" Datsyuk said, when asked how his wrist was holding up. "I'm ok."

Why no faceoffs in Game 5 then?

"I'm not good at faceoffs," Datsyuk deadpanned.

The subterfuge continued on Tuesday after the Red Wings' morning skate. First up was veteran forward Tomas Holmstrom, who was asked about Datsyuk's health.

"Everybody's fresh, fresh like a daisy," said Holmstrom, who scored the game-winner in game 5 by deflecting a blast by Nicklas Lidstrom. "There's no problems."

Next up was Babcock, who was again asked about Detroit's strategy to deal with Datsyuk being unable to take faceoffs because of the wrist.

"Pav's OK," Babcock said. "There's these rumors going around that he's hurt, be he looks good to me."

He looks good to Holmstrom, too.

"I've played with him a long time," Holmstrom said. "You think you've seen it all, then he takes it up another notch."
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.10.2011 / 4:12 PM

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

Kronwall has no ill will toward Clowe

When word began to spread on Tuesday morning that Sharks forward Ryane Clowe didn't make the trip to Detroit after Game 5 in San Jose, most immediately thought it had something to do with a huge that Detroit's Niklas Kronvall put on him.

It was a clean hit, as Kronwall circled in toward Clowe near the boards and sent him to the ice while he tried to play the puck. San Jose coach Todd McLellan said Clowe stayed behind with an undisclosed upper-body injury not related to the hit, while Kronwall said he wasn't trying to knock Clowe out of action.

"Obviously, you don't want anyone to get hurt," Kronwall said on Tuesday, after Detroit's morning skate. "They said it was flu-like symptoms. I don't think it has anything to do with that hit whatsoever."

He also quickly forgot about the hit after delivering it, seeing as Detroit trailed at the time.

"I don't think anything too much after a hit," Kronwall said. "You just go out there and try to play physical."

Kronwall also laid out Dany Heatley in Game 4 with a big hit in Game 4 at Joe Louis Arena, which Clowe appeared to take issue with at the end of the game. After the final horn sounded on Detroit's 4-3 win, Clowe got into a small scuffle near the Detroit bench with Justin Abdelkader.

Asked about it afterward, Clowe said he wished it had been Kronwall he'd run into at that point. Kronwal, however, had nothing but praise for Clowe's ability -- especially after racking up 4 assists in the past two games of this series.

"He's an honest player, works hard, plays hard," Kronwall said. "He's a good player."
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.10.2011 / 4:00 PM

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

Babcock wants more grind, less finesse, from Modano

Perhaps offering a clue into his logic of not playing star veteran forward Mike Modano for the first five games of this series, Detroit coach Mike Babcock said he wants the 40-year old Modano to play a simple game and grind out wins in puck battles.

Snazzy plays are not what interests Babcock – who is playing Modano in place of the injured Johan Franzen (ankle).

"He's got to skate, he's got to compete," Babcock said of Modano, who grew up in nearby Westland, Mich.,but played the first 20 years of his 21-year NHL career with the Dallas Stars organization. "It's racing out there. There's mistakes being made defensively by both teams that you don't see during the year, because the pace is so high. There's no room. If you think you're going to go out there and make a nice play, it's not going to happen. You've got to go out there and grind and compete and work hard. If you do that, the offense is going to come off the cycle, not off the rush. We've got to find a way to get him involved in that."
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Posted On Saturday, 05.07.2011 / 3:52 PM

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

Setoguchi discusses deleting his Twitter account

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- @seto1661 is no more.

Devin Setoguchi, the 24-year-old right wing of the San Jose Sharks, decided to delete his Twitter account following Friday night's loss to the Detroit Red Wings. It was heartbreaking news for many, as Setoguchi had nearly 30,000 followers.

Setoguchi discussed his decision to delete the account following Sharks practice Saturday.

"It's just that time of year. You need to focus," Setoguchi said. "You don't need to read other stuff or promote anything. I just decided to go off."

Setoguchi was asked if close friend Logan Couture, who is @LoganCouture on Twitter and has nearly 33,000 followers, can handle the social media tool by himself.

"Yeah, I'm sure he can," Setoguchi said with a laugh.

Setoguchi used his fame and the power of the Internet to help out a worthy cause. Once he reached 15,000 followers, he donated $5,000 to a cancer charity.

But those days are over. All he's concerned with is Sunday night's Game 5 against the Red Wings.

"It's great because I had like 30,000 people who got to live life or understand what I was doing," Setoguchi said. "That's the part that's the bad thing. I like to interact with fans, but it's that time of year. I'd rather just focus on what I need to do and not worry or read anything like that. It's just a personal thing. No one said anything that made me change my mind. I just decided it was over."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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Posted On Saturday, 05.07.2011 / 3:51 PM

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

Babcock says things may get 'tighter and tighter'

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- "One game at a time" is a cliche that's so cliche that it's cliche to point out how cliche it is.

But when it comes to overcoming a 3-0 series deficit in the NHL, the only way it can happen is if the team doesn't start looking at the big picture.

The Red Wings took the first step toward erasing the 3-0 hole by winning 4-3 Friday against the Sharks in Game 4. Coach Mike Babcock knows there's still a long way to go, but as was evidenced in the Blackhawks' comeback against the Vancouver Canucks that reached an overtime in Game 7, the pressure will slowly start building for San Jose.

"They want to win a game and we want to win a game," Babcock said Saturday at Sharks Ice in San Jose. "Obviously they’re up 3-1. They’re in a different situation than our situation. But the reality is, as you know, as these things go on and a team can crawl back into it, things get tighter and tighter. That’s just the facts.’’

Game 5 will be played Sunday at 5 p.m. local time (8 ET) at HP Pavilion. Kris Draper believes this game will go a long way in deciding who will win the series.

"This is the big one. I think Game 5 is huge here," Draper said. "We’re coming into their building and they obviously want to end the series. We’re going to do everything we possibly can to force Game 6. We’re going to lay it all on the line.’’

Sharks coach Todd McLellan called Saturday an "easy day" and said he didn't have to explain what went wrong in Game 4, he showed them during a video session.

“We weren’t close enough. We weren’t good enough to win that game (Friday) and we probably weren’t good enough in Game 3 (Wednesday) as well,” McLellan said. “I thought the gap got a little wider in Game 4 and we have to close it.

“(The Wings) intensity level went up and we didn’t meet. They did a lot of good things in our zone, throwing pucks at the net and getting second opportunities. Those are things we were doing well in Game 1 and Game 2 and we’ve got to get back to do some of that ourselves.”

Interestingly enough, Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said sort of the same thing Friday, that his team needed to be better in Game 5 after squandering a three-goal lead in Game 4.

And of course, the only game that matters is Sunday's. After all, if a team is to come back from down 3-0 in a series, well...

"We knew what we had to do last night. We had to win," Lidstrom said. "It's going to be the same approach tomorrow night. We just have to come out and play solid and win another game. We can't worry about anything else but the game tomorrow."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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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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Posted On Saturday, 04.30.2011 / 3:09 PM

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

Sharks' Boyle not a fan of noon start for Game 2

Sunday's Game 2 between the Sharks and Red Wings will start at noon local time at HP Pavilion, the first time all season a game will start that early in San Jose. The Red Wings are no strangers to playing at 12:30 on NBC, but it's going to be a new experience for many members of the Sharks.

"I don't like it. I'll be honest," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "I don't like noon games at all. It is what it is. I haven't quite figured out what the routine's going to be, but I'll figure it out tonight. Although I don't like it, I'm sure I'll be ready to go come game time."

Sharks coach Todd McLellan said he doesn't believe the rare noon start of his players will have much an effect, considering the team holds most of its practices at home at about the same time.

"Both teams have to start at noon, so both teams have issues and things to deal with," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Our body clocks and our hockey clocks are set to skate at this time. This is when we practice every day. We cfome to the rink and we start thinking hockey and breathing hockey. It's a matter of what you do tonight and how you manage your morning and make sure you're prepared. That's an individual choice that each of our players has to make so they come in and play for their teammates."

Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard doesn't mind waking up a little earlier for a hockey game.

"It's no big deal," Howard said. "The only thing that really changes is the morning and you don't get the pregame skate."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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Posted On Saturday, 04.30.2011 / 2:54 PM

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

Heatley talks Pavelski, uses 'Wisconsin' as adjective

The Sharks had a quick skate Saturday afternoon at Sharks Ice, their practice facility that's about 2 miles from HP Pavilion. The atmosphere was light and fun, not surprising with the team coming off a 2-1 overtime win against the Red Wings about 12 hours earlier.

But no one seemed to be having more fun than Dany Heatley, who was asked about Joe Pavelski, a Wisconsin native who also played his college hockey at Wisconsin.

The question was, "What's the most Wisconsin Badger-like thing about him?"

"I don't know about Badger," Heatley said, "but growing up in Wisconsin, it's probably his and his old man's love of hunting and fishing. I did see him eat some cheese curds the other day."

Ever seen him any Green Bay Packers stuff?

"Oh yeah," Heatley said. "You don't see him tailgating out there with the grill?"

Does he lean toward Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers?

"I don't know. I'm a Favre guy," Heatley said. "I'm both guys. They're both good guys. You have to be diplomatic with those guys."

Heatley did heap praise on Pavelski for his game-tying goal in the third period Friday, when he batted a puck out of mid-air near the net.

"The way he plays, come this time of year, he gets rewarded for those things," Heatley said. "When Pavs does things like that in practice, knocking it out of the air, you get in a game like that, you get a chance to do that, and he buries it for us. He works on a lot little things."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Thursday, 04.28.2011 / 3:33 PM

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

EA SPORTS predicts second round full of upsets

With four Game 7s in a 30-hour span, the first round of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs went out with a bang, and given the win-or-go-home nature of each of those games, the chances that postseason brackets in office pools across North America would stay intact were tenuous at best. Having an opening round record of 7 correct picks would be pretty impressive. Even getting just 5 series right, as the writer of this very story did, isn't terrible.

Of course, going 8-for-8 isn't bad either.

The wizards at EA SPORTS did just that with their EA SPORTS NHL '11 simulation engine, which accurately tabbed such upsets as Tampa Bay's win over Pittsburgh and Nashville's first-ever postseason series victory. Rather than walk off into the sunset, however, EA SPORTS is back at it for round two of the postseason, and this time those predictions are a little gutsier than usual.

Taking three of four lower seeds to advance to the 2011 conference finals would make another perfect projection a pretty remarkable example of clairvoyance, but that's just what EA SPORTS is banking on, as its latest round of predictions has Vancouver as the lone higher seed advancing. For the Canucks to do so after a draining seven-game win over Chicago could be difficult, but EA SPORTS' simulations expect it -- and in just five games. If all goes according to plan, the Canucks will be facing Detroit, which is predicted to topple San Jose in overtime in a decisive seventh game.

In the East, Tampa Bay is picked to complete what would be the upset of the playoffs thus far, as EA SPORTS has the Bolts eliminating the No. 1-seeded Capitals in seven games, while the Bruins get a measure of revenge for last year's historic ouster at the hands of the Flyers with a six-game win over Philadelphia.

EA SPORTS will continue to run simulations after each round of the playoffs, but in addition fans are invited to make their own predictions in the EA SPORTS NHL 2011 Playoff Bracket Contest at www.facebook.com/EASPORTSNHL. Participating fans can accrue points for correct predictions with the ultimate prize at the end of Stanley Cup Final of two tickets to the 2012 NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa on the line.

Second Round fan voting opens today at http://www.facebook.com/EASPORTSNHL, when fans can make predictions for the postseason's opening round. Start dates for subsequent rounds will be announced at the conclusion of each series.

EA SPORTS NHL 11 Round Two Predictions: Conference Semifinals

Western Conference

(1) Vancouver vs. Nashville (5)
 
Game 1: Nashville 3 @ Vancouver 1

Game 2: Nashville 2 @ Vancouver 5

Game 3: Vancouver 2 @ Nashville 1

Game 4: Vancouver 4 @ Nashville 2

Game 5: Nashville 0 @ Vancouver 2

Vancouver wins series 4-1

 
(2) San Jose vs. Detroit (3)

Game 1: Detroit 3 @ San Jose 2

Game 2: Detroit 2 @ San Jose 4

Game 3: San Jose 3 @ Detroit 4

Game 4: San Jose 5 @ Detroit 4 [OT]

Game 5: Detroit 2 @ San Jose 3

Game 6: San Jose 2 @ Detroit 5

Game 7: Detroit 4 @ San Jose 3 [OT]

Detroit wins series 4-3

 

Eastern Conference:

(1) Washington vs. Tampa Bay (5)

Game 1: Tampa Bay 1 @ Washington 3

Game 2: Tampa Bay 4 @ Washington 6

Game 3: Washington 3 @ Tampa Bay 4

Game 4: Washington 2 @ Tampa Bay 3 [OT]

Game 5: Tampa Bay 2 @ Washington 5

Game 6: Washington 0 @ Tampa Bay 2

Game 7: Tampa Bay 3 @ Washington 1

Tampa Bay wins series 4-3


(2) Philadelphia vs. Boston (3)


Game 1: Boston 4 @ Philadelphia 2

Game 2: Boston 2 @ Philadelphia 3

Game 3: Philadelphia 1 @ Boston 2[OT]

Game 4: Philadelphia 1 @ Boston 4

Game 5: Boston 1 @ Philadelphia 4

Game 6: Philadelphia 2 @ Boston 3

Boston wins series 4-2

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