Seeds: No. 3 vs. No. 2; Red Wings beat Phoenix in four games; Sharks beat Los Angeles in six
Can the San Jose Sharks make it two years in a row and send the Detroit Red Wings packing for the summer, or will the Sharks' postseason futility continue? The Red Wings will be rested and confident after sweeping the Phoenix Coyotes in four straight, while the Sharks are coming off a dramatic overtime win in Game 6 on Monday night to dispose of the Los Angeles Kings.
Right here, right now: San Jose won three of the four meetings between the teams this season. Detroit's lone win -- a 5-3 decision -- came Nov. 30 at HP Pavilion. The Sharks won the next three, outscoring the Wings 12-6 along the way.
This will be the fifth time these teams have met in the postseason. San Jose defeated Detroit in five games last year to advance to the Western Conference Finals. Detroit won the previous two meetings (2007, 1995) after San Jose shocked the Wings in the opening round of the 1994 Stanley Cup Playoffs, stunning Detroit in Game 7.
Coulda, Woulda: Detroit hasn't played a game since April 20, when it completed its four-game sweep of the Coyotes in Phoenix. The Red Wings didn't even know the Sharks would be their opponent until Vancouver finally eliminated Chicago late Tuesday night.
Had the Blackhawks found a way in overtime against the Canucks, the Red Wings would have faced Nashville in Round 2, beginning at home. Instead, they'll head West looking for a way to beat the Sharks, who are 7-2 against Detroit dating back to last year's playoffs.
Who Needs Game 1 More: While the Red Wings are 4-0 this postseason, they could really use a victory in Game 1 to dispute the rust factor, which will be questioned before the puck drops for Game 1. Also, with the Sharks having home-ice advantage, Detroit is going to need a split in the first two games before the series shifts to Joe Louis Arena for Games 3 and 4.
The Great Unknown: Are Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen healthy? Franzen, who had 2 goals and an assist in three games against Phoenix, is recovering from a lower-body injury suffered due to a hit from Coyotes captain Shane Doan in Game 2. Franzen is skating and is confident he'll be ready for Game 1 against San Jose.
Zetterberg did not play at all against Phoenix after suffering a knee injury during the final week of the regular season. However, with all this extra time off, there's reason to be hopeful that the Swedish superstar will be ready to go.
Finish Line: Detroit really made it look easy against Phoenix in the opening round, controlling the tempo from the opening faceoff of Game 1 until the final horn sounded in Game 4 at Jobing.com Arena. But the Coyotes don't come close to matching the Sharks' firepower, as San Jose entered the postseason boasting five players who recorded 60 points or more. The Red Wings will have to execute their puck-possession game if they hope to avenge last year's playoff result.
I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.
— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic