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Is There A Rivalry?

It's Just "Play Hockey" Between San Jose and Detroit

Friday, 04.29.2011 / 5:56 PM / News
By San Jose Sharks Staff
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Is There A Rivalry?
There’s one odd facet to the Sharks-Red Wings rivalry – the venom that usually accompanies two elite clubs regularly meeting in the postseason really isn’t there.

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)
“Not yet,” Joe Pavelski said. “That can change in a hurry. I think both groups understand you have to win games and you have to get to four wins before the other team.”

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 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)
“There’s more (attention) right now because there are four of us and four out of eight teams is pretty good,” Clowe said. “All with pretty good chances of making something happen here.”

“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




1 NSH 62 41 14 7 188 147 89
2 ANA 62 38 17 7 182 174 83
3 STL 61 39 18 4 190 152 82
4 CHI 62 37 20 5 183 146 79
5 WPG 63 31 20 12 174 170 74
6 VAN 61 35 23 3 174 162 73
7 MIN 61 32 22 7 173 160 71
8 LAK 60 29 19 12 162 153 70
9 CGY 61 33 24 4 174 158 70
10 SJS 62 30 24 8 173 177 68
11 DAL 61 27 25 9 191 202 63
12 COL 61 26 24 11 161 175 63
13 ARI 62 20 35 7 137 210 47
14 EDM 62 18 34 10 142 206 46


J. Pavelski 62 31 25 12 56
L. Couture 62 21 32 2 53
J. Thornton 58 12 40 -2 52
B. Burns 62 16 29 -3 45
P. Marleau 62 13 31 -14 44
T. Wingels 55 12 15 -5 27
T. Hertl 62 10 14 -3 24
J. Braun 51 1 19 3 20
M. Vlasic 57 7 11 10 18
M. Karlsson 33 9 7 4 16
A. Niemi 24 16 7 .913 2.62
A. Stalock 5 7 1 .899 2.85
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