Measuring Stick #2: Detroit

The big story today seems to be the whole Todd McLellan vs. Mike Babcock sub-plot (I was going to do an Obi-Wan/Darth Vader Photoshop of the two with the "When I left you, I was but the learner. Now I am the master," line but I ran out of time) but that whole thing doesn't really mean that much to me. I mean, these guys are professionals and they knew that some day this was probably going to happen.

My bigger focus is on seeing how the Sharks compare as a whole to the Wings. Like it or not, the god damn Red Wings have been the measuring stick for the league since the mid-90s (give or take a few seasons), and the emphasis is even higher now that they're defending champs. Holding Sidney Crosby and company to just a handful of shots showed that the Sharks were ready to put forth a strong defensive effort against an elite opponent, but I got the sense that the Penguins were off their game on Tuesday. I doubt I'm the only one who thought that the whole game was pretty darn boring.

So, what to expect tonight? The Sharks certainly are playing their own version of the Wings attack style, but I see San Jose as more based on speed and the Wings based more on passing/possession. The idea isn't to necessarily outshine Detroit at their own game; instead, it's all about bringing the necessary effort to make the Sharks' own system the superior one.

A few more random notes:

-Joe Thornton's groin injury seems more obvious with each game. He simply doesn't use his legs or lower body to protect the puck the way that he normally does, and assuming he didn't just revert into a craptacular player over the off-season, I'm assuming this is the lingering effects of his injury. Since I'm not a doctor (and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn last night), I don't know if this is one of those injuries where you can't rest it, you just have to work through it. I'm doubting that, though, since it seems like any sort of leg/abdomen injury would heal better with resting rather than playing at elite-level competition. Plus the team is scoring by committee right now, and I'd rather have 100% Thornton later than 75% Thornton for the bulk of the season (since these things linger forever).

-For all you King fans...um...well, I see what you were complaining about with Rob Blake. Those first two games kinda seem like an abberation now, don't they?

-The Sharks power play started using a slightly different look with one guy in the crease and another guy in the high slot. The strategy here seems to have the low guy providing a screen while the high player looks to deflect a shot in. Jonathan Cheechoo had a few dandy deflections against the Penguins and it's nice to get some refreshing special teams strategy after the Ron Wilson days.

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