SAN JOSE, Calif. -- On the morning of Game 1, it was virtually impossible to find anyone who felt there was hatred between the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks.
A lot of that went out the window when Ben Eager and Todd Bertuzzi fell through the door of the Red Wings' bench during Sunday afternoon's Game 2 at HP Pavilion.
Both received two-minute minors for roughing. Upon exiting the penalty box, they mixed it up again. Eager confronted Bertuzzi and lost a glove. Eager was assessed a 10-minute misconduct in the first true battle after a whistle, something that's been a rarity between these two teams who are facing each other in the playoffs for a second straight season.
"Hatred builds pretty quickly," Eager said. "You play the same guys three, four times in a row, it's going to heat up."
The Red Wings are notorious for refusing to get into scrums following whistles, but they found themselves in a quite few during Game 2. A lot of it stemmed from players being upset about the snow showers received by goaltender Jimmy Howard. In Game 1, Howard received one from Joe Pavelski; he reacted by shoving Pavelski in the face. Both received a roughing penalty.
In Game 2, there were a few more snow showers sent Howard's way. What was once a mutual respect on Friday morning has turned into a feud just two days later.
"They get right in there with a couple of guys, whether it's getting in on top of our goalie or whacking at the puck. That's how most scrums start," Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "That's something we have to adjust. You can't get sucked into penalties and spending too much time on our PK. Thats something we have to get away from."
Are those penalties born out of frustration?
"I don't know. It could be," Wings defenseman Brad Stuart said. "I don't know what it is, we're amped up or we're trying to play with an edge. We have to find a balance of playing with an edge but not going over it."
Bertuzzi received a pair of roughing penalties in Game 2, but it's more than just penalties. There was distinct nastiness to Game 2 that was missing during Game 1.
On the game's first shift, Red Wings forward Danny Cleary made sure to drill hulking Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray, who lost a glove and stick in the collision. Murray got to his feet and began throwing hits with reckless abandon, capping the sequence by drilling Henrik Zetterberg into the boards.
Sharks coach Todd McLellan saw the intensity pick up in Game 2, but he's not ready to say these teams now hate each other.
"Hatred, I don't like that word," McLellan said. "It's a competitive, hard series between two very good teams. Hatred…everybody gets a little (ticked) off at the opponent at certain times for whatever reason. There's a ton of emotion in the game, and that's what makes it great. I don't see it going away at all."
Whatever word you want to use to describe the animosity that's developing between the Sharks and Red Wings, there's definitely an edge to the series now -- look no further for evidence than the penalty taken by Devin Setoguchi, who slashed Johan Franzen with the Sharks leading 2-0.
It gave the Red Wings a power play with 6:38 remaining that led to Zetterberg's goal that cut the lead to 2-1. It was a rare penalty from the disciplined Setoguchi, who had just 37 penalty minutes this season and has only 89 in 267 career games.
If emotions are going to boil over more frequently between these teams, then Wednesday's Game 3 at Joe Louis Arena could make for a heated contest.
"We've played each other both years in the postseason and with good teams, there becomes a little bit of hatred in the game," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "There's nothing really cheap, but guys are playing hard and that's what you expect during the playoffs."
For our team, as a group, we've never been this far before, and so it's just more lessons learned, and sometimes you have to go to the school of hard knocks to find out what works and what doesn't. We've got a young group. They've played some unreal hockey here to get us this far, and we showed if we're not going to play the proper way, a really, really good hockey team is going to beat you, and that's what they did. It's a lesson learned.
— Lightning coach Jon Cooper after Rangers win in Game 6 forced a Game 7 that will be played at Madison Square Garden on Friday