When Tomas Holmstom enters the San Jose-Detroit series for the first time tonight, it will definitely change the Red Wings plan of attack.
Holmstrom is notorious for sitting directly in front of the netminder, and while it may ultimately be the goaltender’s problem, Nabokov is simply the last line of defense and the blueliners and forwards can help deter any potential problems as well.
“He gets there as early as possible,” said Hannan of Holmstrom’s offensive position. “You can get in front of him or lift his stick.”
Being in front of Holmstrom to stop a shot, prevents the goalie from being screened. Working his stick keeps the Red Wings forward from grabbing any rebounds or tipping for a redirect.
“You can’t allow any second chances,” said Hannan. “He’s good at tipping the puck. He knows where to screen and how to tip.”
It is not a few years ago where Holmstrom could be battered and beaten away from Nabokov.
“In the old NHL, you would try and move him physically and be nasty with cross checks to move him out,” said Craig Rivet. “In the new NHL, you can’t touch him in front of the net.”
Plus, the confrontation in front could do more harm than good.
“If you’re battling, you’re creating more interference for the goaltender,” said Rivet.
The Sharks have dealt with a similar threat so far this series with good success.
“Todd Bertuzzi is 6-3, 245 and he’s like Holmstrom,” said Rivet. “He likes to plant in front of the net.”
San Jose’s shot blocking ability will be even more necessary tonight so that Holmstrom never has a chance to screen Nabokov.
“As a team, we’ve done a great job of blocking shots,” said Rivet. “The forwards and the defense.”
GOING FOR 3-1
Just as the Nashville series, the Sharks have an opportunity to take a 3-1 series advantage, while playing in the comforts of HP Pavilion. A Red Wings victory would even the series and leave the likely victor up for grabs. History shows that clubs up 3-1 rarely relinquish the lead, winning better than 90 percent of the time.
“Each game is bigger and bigger,” said Hannan.
HARDER TO SCORE
The Sharks may not be posting the their regular season offensive numbers, but nobody is this postseason.
“The coaches (still in) have figured out the rules and how to play defense without hooking and holding,” said Ron Wilson. “It comes down to traffic in front of the net. It’s the same in all the series. Buffalo is not scoring . . . not even getting shots on net.”
Mike Grier could have been the Sharks MVP from the Nashville series and has played a big role against Detroit, but it is not news to Wilson that Grier is a great hockey player.
“I’ve watched him since college and dreamt about having him for 15 years,” said Wilson.
Game 4 will start at 7 p.m. at HP Pavilion on Versus, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.