Game of the Night Preview: The Return of Claude Lemieux.
These two teams will meet for the last time this season until the Western Conference Finals. Both these teams have been the class of the entire league, let alone the conference. The Red Wings have finished atop the Western Confererence for the past 4 season; and will have to make a run in the last 20 games to catch the Sharks to make it a 5th straight year. The Sharks have 91 points in 58 games, which is one more than the Bruins (who have played 61 games) and 5 more than the Red Wings (who have played 60 games).
The Wings will go with Ty Conklin tonight after Jimmy Howard made his first start of the season on Saturday. As for the Sharks, Evgeni Nobokov will make his 47th start of the season, and is coming off a shutout on Monday.
As for my prediction, I am a Sharks lover, but I am taking the Red Wings at home tonight. It will be a playoff atmosphere tonight at the Joe. TSN should be covering this game instead of the Leafs and Rangers, which will probably end in a 1-0 win for the Leafs and be a shitty game. While the Sharks and Red Wings can play to a 1-0 game and be the best game of the year.
If the Sharks want to win this game, their big guns have to come out and play. Joe Thornton has a tendency to disappear in big games, and he will be shadowed by Lidstrom or Kronwall all night. He is likely to play more physical against better defensemen, but must also find the scoresheet. Joe Thornton must show Todd McCllelan that he is ready for the playoffs, and there is no better game to do it than tonight.
Tonight is also the return of the most hated man at The Joe: Claude Lemieux, who was the main agitator during the 1990’s when the Red Wings and Avalanche battled. Coincidentally, two of the few players remaining from that rivalry are Lemieux and Kris Draper, who Lemieux absolutely obliterated in the 1996 playoffs. The hit could not have been more illegal by today’s standards and I highly doubt that the Wings fans have forgotten.