The Good Old Hockey Predictions: #1 San Jose Sharks vs. #5 Detroit Red Wings
For a brief moment in each team’s quarterfinal matchups, there were moments where it seemed neither team had enough gas to make it into the second round. Yet they got over their initial stumbling and ultimately ended up taking control.
This series is going to be all about control — who can control the tempo of play, who can control the puck on special teams and which goalie will contol the net.
San Jose in 7
This match-up is huge for the Sharks. The Red Wings represent everything that San Jose is not and wishes it was. The Sharks have been a dominant force in the Western Conference for the past decade, but really don’t have anything but a few Presidents’ Trophies to show for it. That’s not going to cut it. NHL success for the top teams is defined by Stanley Cups and deep playoff runs. The Sharks have neither.
Both Detroit and San Jose struggled at times in their opening match-up. The Sharks ultimately took control of their series against the Avs and won…like they should have. Detroit had trouble with Phoenix. I don’t like the idea that the Red Wings should have steam rolled them. The Coyotes had the fourth most points of any team in the league this season. They’re a damn good team and they showed it. You don’t get 107 points by accident. Props to Phoenix for pushing it seven games, but bigger props to Detroit for winning some big road games.
The Wings’ domination in game seven and the Sharks’ reputation of choking have a lot of people picking Detroit. I’m picking Detroit too, but not because the Sharks’ will choke, but because the Wings are the better team when healthy. This is going to be a very long, close, tough series for both teams. Evgeni Nabokov struggles against Detroit and Jimmy Howard is still a rookie. Bottom line, specialty teams will determine this series. The Wings’ power play and penalty kill were all systems go in game seven in Phoenix. I expect that trend to continue.
Detroit in 7
The Red Wings were in usual form in their first-round series against the Phoenix Coyotes. They dominated game seven, winning 6-1. The Sharks struggled in the first few games in their quarterfinal matchup with the Avalanche before their offense stepped up and got them through in six games. Both teams have a lot of fire power and strong defenses. This series should feature a lot of close games. This series may very well come down to goaltending. In that case, I’m going with Jimmy Howard. Evgeni Nabokov has been shakey in goal. If the Red Wings make him uncomfortable, they should have smooth sailing into the Western final.
Detroit in 6