Is There A Rivalry?
It's Just "Play Hockey" Between San Jose and Detroit
|San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski, left, works for the puck against Los Angeles Kings center Michal Handzus during the first period of Game 6 of a first-round NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoff series in Los Angeles, Monday, April 25, 2011. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)|
There’s simply no time for shenanigans when so much is at stake and the opposition isn’t going to bite.
“Against Detroit, it’s just line up and compete,” Ryane Clowe said. “There are no secrets system-wise.”
Part is a mutual respect for the other side and that both clubs are very smart about this stage of the playoffs. Detroit’s style also doesn’t lead to too many physical altercations. They play hard and are physical, but in a controlled way. The good news is the Sharks can play that style as well.
“Detroit is a little different than an L.A. They like to initiate their hits and battle, but they don’t retaliate or they will skate away from the stuff around the net,” Clowe said. “The cheap shots or the trash talking, they really don’t get involved in that stuff.”
“They’re pretty veteran crew. They know they aren’t going to win the series by sitting in the penalty box. We know exactly the same thing,” Scott Nichol said. “We’re (both) really conscious of the special teams.”
It could happen, but don’t expect the gloves to come off a lot in the next two weeks.
“It’s a physical battle, but not by dropping the gloves and fighting,” Nichol said. “It’s physical because you’re in your own end because they protect pucks well. Or our big players are so heavy that they wear their D down. That’s where the draining is. Not so much doing the 10-foot run to hit guys.”
There’s one guarantee: two good hockey clubs will begin a hard-played series on Friday night.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Dan Boyle said. “It’s going to be a hard fought series.”
THE WAIT IS OVER
The Red Wings have been waiting a bit longer (they haven’t played since April 20), but the Sharks are just as anxious to get things started.
“After the L.A. series, you want to get right back on in and play the next night,” Joe Thornton said. “We went over their strengths and weaknesses and can’t wait to get started tonight.”
There’s a special bond among players from the Canadian province of Newfoundland as there aren’t a lot of NHLers from the region. However, there are two in the Sharks-Wings series -- Clowe and Dan Cleary -- and the series will carry extra attention in their home province. The other Newfies are Teddy Purcell of Tampa Bay and Boston’s Michael Ryder.
|San Jose Sharks right wing Ryane Clowe (29) checks Los Angeles Kings right wing Dustin Brown (23) during the third period in Game 5 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup playoffs hockey series in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, April 23, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)|
“Where Danny is from and where I’m from, the senior hockey rivalry is big, so I’m sure there will be a lot of late nights back home. Danny and I grew up in small communities and the senior hockey rivalry back home was always big.”
Due to the matchup in Silicon Valley and the Motor City, at least one Newfoundland product will have a chance to in the next round.
“I just like to see the Newfies do well and one of us is going to the Western Conference Finals which is nice,” Clowe said.
This marks the fifth all-time matchup between the Sharks and the Red Wings in the postseason. Below is a brief history of their playoff series.
San Jose dispatched Detroit in five games, but the series was closer than the record indicates. Thanks to a singular blowout in Game 4, Detroit actually outscored San Jose, 17-15. San Jose captured four, one- goal games, including three consecutive 4-3 contests to begin the series. In fact, the Sharks won the first three games.
San Jose won two of the first three games and was closing in on a two-game lead, but a late regulation-time goal, followed by an overtime tally, gave the Red Wings Game 4 and they were victorious in the next two games to close out the series.
This series came the year after San Jose’s 1994 first round upset and it was the only sweep in the clubs’ postseason history. Detroit smothered San Jose 6-0 in Game 1 and continued the assault with three consecutive 6-2 wins. The Wings scored 24 goals in just four contests.
This is still the defining series in the Sharks long postseason history. Coming in as the eighth seed and still viewed as an expansion club, they won the first playoff series in franchise history against an Original Six club. Igor Larionov (who later won a championship with Detroit) led the way with 10 points, Sergei Makarov scored six times and Arturs Irbe was “like wall.” But it was Jamie Baker who stole the show with his dramatic Game 7 winner.
By the way, get some thoughts from the Detroit side by clicking here:
Opening faceoff for Game 1 is at 7 p.m. Watch on CSN-CA in HD and listen on 98.5/102.1 K-FOX and the Sharks Radio Network and online at www.sjsharks.com