RED WINGS at SHARKS
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Season series: The Sharks dropped the first meeting of the season, 5-3 at home, but won the last three -- including both visits to Detroit's Joe Louis Arena, the first time they've done that since entering the NHL in 1991. The teams are meeting in the second round for the third time in five years -- Detroit won in 2007 and the Sharks got even last year.
Big story: The seedings are different , but the stakes are the same as they were a year ago. The second-seeded Sharks and third-seeded Wings (they were No. 1 and No. 5 in the West a year ago) meet again with the Wings looking to atone for a five-game loss to the Sharks a year ago -- a series that saw San Jose win the close games while losing the lone blowout.
Red Wings: A year ago, the Wings trudged to San Jose to play the series opener just two nights after beating Phoenix in a seven-game marathon. The fatigue showed, as the Wings spent the whole series playing catchup. This time, Detroit will be well-rested -- maybe too rested -- after finishing off a sweep of the Coyotes on April 20.
"Obviously last year we came right from Phoenix. (We) didn't have the same opportunity to rest or prepare," coach Mike Babcock said after Thursday's practice." This year we would have been in big-time trouble if that had been the case just because we had so many injuries. We needed guys to get time off and get healthy so they could get playing. So we're excited about the opportunity. We know we're playing a real good team. It should be fun."
Sharks: San Jose, which beat Los Angeles in six games in the first round, has won seven of its last nine against Detroit, going back to last spring. How much will that mean when the puck drops on Friday night? To hear the Sharks talk about it -- nothing.
"You can wipe that right out the window," forward Devin Setoguchi said. "Every year is different. It's a new series, a new season. It doesn't matter how many games we won against them the last two years. It's going to be totally different in this series."
Who's hot: Pavel Datsyuk was dynamic for the Wings in the opening round with 2 goals and 6 points in the four-game sweep. ... Ryane Clowe led the Sharks with 4 goals and 7 points in the first round.
Injury report: Detroit beat Phoenix without star forward Henrik Zetterberg (knee) and played Game 4 without Johan Franzen (ankle). Both are expected to be ready for this series. Chris Osgood, the Wings' backup goaltender, hasn't played since January due to hernia surgery. ... San Jose is still without defenseman Kent Huskins (upper body), but is otherwise healthy.
Stat pack: The Sharks got at least five goals from each of their top three lines in the opening round, while Detroit had 13 players score goals in its sweep of Phoenix. ... One interesting mini-battle will be the Sharks' power play, which went 2-for-23 in the opening round, against Detroit's penalty-killers, who allowed Phoenix to go 6-for-18. ... San Jose won all three overtime games in the opening round; Detroit-Phoenix was the only series without an overtime game.
Puck drop: It's not a coincidence that in many ways, these teams are mirrors of each other -- after all, the Sharks hired Todd McLellan as their coach three years ago after he worked for Babcock on the 2008 Cup champs.
"We have fairly similar teams," Zetterberg said. "We play similar ways in terms of structure. They're always good battles. We've played these guys so many times. You know everyone, you know what to do, you know what you don't want them to do. It's going to be a great battle. It always is."