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Close call picking between Franzen and Sharp

Wednesday, 12.31.2008 / 2:01 PM ET / Features
By Mike G. Morreale
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Close call picking between Franzen and Sharp
In keeping up with the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic theme this week, perhaps it's only fitting to compare two players on opposite sides preparing to do battle on New Year's Day in Chicago (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS, NHL Radio, XM Radio).

Detroit's Johan Franzen, drafted 97th overall in 2004, and Chicago's Patrick Sharp, selected 95th in '01, might not generate the daily headlines of their teammates, but they most certainly have a propensity for the dramatic nonetheless.

For instance, at the end of the 2007-08 regular season, Franzen led the Red Wings with 8 game-winning goals, while Sharp topped the Blackhawks with 7 game-clinchers.

Both second-line forwards, who each established career highs last season in goals and points, hope to play a big part for their respective team on Thursday in Chicago before an expected capacity crowd at Wrigley Field.

Franzen, nicknamed "The Mule" because of his ability to carry the load, posted 27 goals, 38 points and a plus-12 rating in 72 games during the 2007-08 season. Sharp led the Blackhawks and shared 13th in the League with 36 goals while posting 62 points and a plus-23 rating through 80 games.

"Sharpy is a great goal scorer; he always finds ways to get open," said Blackhawks wing Patrick Kane. "If I have the puck and I think a place is going to be open, he's usually standing there. We have a good time shooting together, too."

Additionally, Sharp and Franzen have become powerful assets on specialty teams. Franzen registered a career-best 14 power-play goals last season, while Sharp led the Hawks for the second-straight season in power-play goals (9) and shorthanded goals (7).

Franzen and Sharp are the focus of this week's Head-to-Head segment on NHL.com and we'd like to hear from you. If you were given the opportunity to build a franchise with either one of these game-changing forwards, who would it be? Send your thought to headtohead@nhl.com.

This season, Sharp, who turned 27 on Dec. 27, has totaled 19 goals, 30 points, 7 power-play goals and 4 game-winners in 33 games. He also has 26 hits, 17 blocked shots and 18 takeaways.

Franzen, who turned 29 on Dec. 23, has posted 15 goals, 24 points, 4 power-play goals and 5 game-winners in 30 games. Like Sharp, Franzen is also active away from the puck as evidenced by his 47 hits and 11 takeaways.

The one advantage Franzen holds over Sharp is experience and production in the playoffs. During the Wings' run to the Stanley Cup last season, Franzen led the League with a franchise-record 13 postseason goals and 5 game-winners, even though he missed six games to injury. He also scored a team-record 9 goals in Detroit's four-game sweep of the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference semifinals.

In 40 career playoffs games, "The Mule," who is strong along the boards and can withstand much punishment in front of the cage, has 17 goals and 28 points. In 25 career regular-season games against the Blackhawks, Franzen has 4 goals and 7 assists.

After scoring 23 goals and 52 points in 2004-05 to help the Philadelphia Flyers' American Hockey League affiliate, the Phantoms, win the Calder Cup, Sharp was traded to the Blackhawks in December 2005, for forward Matt Ellison. On Jan. 17, 2008, Sharp signed a four-year contract extension to remain with Chicago through 2012-13 and, in October, he and defenseman Duncan Keith were named alternate captains.

Sharp, extremely agile and swift down wing, has just one goal in 12 career postseason games -- all with the Flyers. In fact, he hasn't yet played a Stanley Cup playoff game as a member of the Blackhawks. Despite his lack of playoff experience, however, Sharp has certainly excelled against the Red Wings in recent years. In fact, he scored a career-high three goals in a 5-3 victory over the Wings at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on Nov. 17, 2007. In 24 career games against the Wings, Sharp has 9 goals, 7 assists and 32 penalty minutes.

Internationally, Sharp scored 3 goals in nine games when Team Canada captured a silver medal in the 2008 World Championships. Franzen won a gold medal for Team Sweden at the 2006 World Championships, posting three assists and 12 penalty minutes in eight games.

Not as easy as you might have expected? After digesting the arguments, it's your turn to chime in and make the call. Will it be Sharp or Franzen? Send us your thoughts at headtohead@nhl.com. Enjoy the Bridgestone Winter Classic everyone!




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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80