The San Jose Sharks are like much of the NHL in one way, they still view the Detroit Red Wings as one of the NHL’s elite teams. Detroit being in town always raised the bar for fans and players.
Like the Chicago game recently and other home assignments against big opponents, there will be a little extra electricity in the building tonight for Detroit and that excitement trickles down to the players.
“Everybody loves playing Detroit, it doesn’t matter what the team,” said Scott Nichol. “There are always Detroit fans in your rink and you want to shut them out.”
Nichol had to deal with the Detroit phenomenon even more when he was a division rival with the Predators. On top of being closer to Detroit, there were many transplants because of a local automotive plant.
The Wings have not been themselves from the perspective of the standings in 2009-10. They currently hold the eighth playoff spot out west, but much of that can be attributed to injuries and Detroit is now getting those players back.
“I think you could go to the other 29 coaches in the league and (they still) fear Detroit,” said McLellan. “They’ve gone to the finals the last two years. I still think they’re one of the top teams in the league.”
“It is a lot of the same personnel,” said Manny Malhotra. “They still play the same system. That mentality doesn’t go away.”
Some teams have size, some speed, but Detroit seems to wrap everything into one. Universally, they might be the most respected club in the NHL.
“It’s a combination of everything,” said Malhotra. “They play a very sound team game, they have individual talent and they definitely have speed. If you give them time and space, they will make plays.”
“They breed winning,” said Nichol. “Coming up down the stretch, they’ll climb the ladder as far as they can.”
The Sharks are in first place for a reason and are very confident in their own game and worry more about their process. There is one aspect of the game that if they control it will have a major role in deciding who wins the contest.
“Mentally, we have to control our neutral zone turnovers,” said Malhotra. “They thrive on neutral zone turnovers. We don’t want to trade chances with them, we want to play the game the right way.”
McLellan is altering his lineup with a tweak on the fourth line. Jamie McGinn has been called up to skate with Torrey Mitchell
and Brad Staubitz. Even with all his trips back and forth, the recall to San Jose still gets the adrenaline going for McGinn.
“It’s really exciting,” said McGinn. “You work so hard to be here. It’s been a little while and it’s nice to be back.”
Staubitz noted the winning in Worcester has been a “lot of fun”, but there is one difficult part to being on the east coast. Watching their friends and the parent club can be hard.
“(After a game) we’ll go to dinner and when we get home, the San Jose game is still on,” said McGinn. “When there is no game, we only watch a period and a half or two and check the NHL Network (in the morning) to see how it finished. We have to get our sleep to prepare for (Worcester games).”
McLellan provided updates for Dan Boyle
and Marc-Edouard Vlasic
for the contest.
is a game time decision and Marc-Edouard is a no,” said McLellan.
Nichol came off the ice after a tiring morning skate. For some clubs, the morning skate is about a simple light workout to go over a little planning. Nichol looks at it from an old hockey expression.
“They say you can’t win the game in the pregame skate, but you can sure lose it,” said Nichol.
The Detroit game will be at 7:30 p.m. and will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.