Three Questions: Wings-Sharks
DRW.com's Michael Caples analyzes the Wings' 45th game
Whenever the top two teams in the Western Conference collide, there will be lots of attention from the hockey world. The Wings and the Sharks did not disappoint, assembling a thrilling 60 minutes. The Wings weren’t able to come out on top, but it was still a great game to watch. The two teams combined for nine goals, 67 hits, and 12 penalties; the game was fast-paced, hard-hitting, and full of lead changes. In my opinion, a rivalry is brewing between Detroit and San Jose, and the possibility of a playoff series in a few months is very intriguing. Whenever you have superstars like Marian Hossa and Joe Thornton exchanging words, and hits being thrown everywhere on the ice, you’re in for some good hockey. Saturday’s game was one of the most compelling of the 2008-09 season.
What went wrong?
The loss of Johan Franzen was quite a blow to the Wings line-up Saturday night. After being involved in the five-penalty altercation at the end of the second period, it was announced at the start of the third that Franzen would not be returning, due to a lower-body injury. The game was the type that ‘The Mule’ thrives on – fast and physical. Without one of their biggest forwards in the line-up, goal scoring became a little bit more difficult for Detroit. It also forced coach Mike Babcock to juggle the forward lines at the most important time of the game, which is never easy. Franzen had one goal in three shots on 11:37 worth of ice time through the first two periods, and his strong presence in front of the net and the corners was missed in the third.
Who was the Wings’ player of the game?
Hossa turned in yet another impressive performance for Hockeytown Saturday night. The winger had a goal and two assists while eating up 20:15 worth of ice time. Hossa fired eight shots towards the San Jose goal, and he also threw five hits throughout the game. His goal was another display of his hockey smarts and quick shot. He scored on the power play resulting in a penalty that he drew, using his speed in the neutral zone to force defenseman Douglas Murray to hold him up. He then went to work on the man-advantage, sneaking away from Mike Grier to get open in the slot. After drifting away from the coverage, Hossa took a Pavel Datsyuk pass and blasted right past goaltender Evgeni Nabokov for his 22nd goal of the season.