Fewer than 20 percent of teams down 2-0 in the Stanley Cup playoffs go on to win the series. In fact, the Detroit Red Wings have lost six of the last seven series when they trailed 2-0.
But that is a reality the Wings must face after suffering consecutive 2-1 losses to the San Jose Sharks during the first two contests of this best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series. Both games dipped ‘under’ the 5 ½-goal closing total.
The two goals in two games is Detroit’s worst offensive performance in a playoff series in 11 years. Unless the Wings rediscover their offensive prowess they will be headed to the golf courses far quicker than they had hoped.
San Jose has now won 10 of the last 12 games between the teams, including six of the last seven playoff matchups.
Most sports books monitored by Don Best Sports Real-Time Odds have installed the Wings as 165 home favorites for Wednesday’s Game 3, which will begin at 5:05 p.m. (PT). The total opened at 5 ½ ‘under’ (minus 135).
Being an underdog has not bothered the Sharks at all, evidenced by their 11-3 ledger during the last 14 contests in that role. Additionally, the Sharks are 10-1-1 in their last 12 road dates and 26-14-2-2 on enemy ice overall this season.
Though the Sharks are just 8-20-1 in their last 29 visits to Joe Louis Arena, they captured both regular season meetings in Detroit this season and won two games at the Joe during last year’s playoffs.
Detroit actually owns a better record on the road (28-12-3-2) than it does at home (23-14-4-2). The ‘over’ is 9-3 in Detroit’s last 12 encounters and 47-41 overall this season.
Not many observers expected this series to be very chippy. After all, the Red Wings are notorious for refusing to get into scrums following whistles.
However, the Wings found themselves in a quite few during Game 2. Much of it stemmed from players being upset about the snow showers received by goaltender Jimmy Howard when the Sharks charged the net.
Howard was again stellar in net during Sunday’s Game 2 loss, stopping 35 shots after stonewalling 44 in Game 1. Howard yielded a power-play goal to Sharks defenseman Ian White and a third-period snapper by defenseman Niclas Wallin that appeared to glance off a stick. Otherwise, Howard was superb, keeping the Wings close.
Antti Niemi, who won the Stanley Cup last season while playing between the pipes for the Chicago Blackhawks, stopped 33-of-34 shots to register the victory.
Henrik Zetterberg notched the lone Detroit goal with 6:02 remaining in regulation when he received a nifty pass from Pavel Datsyuk and snapped a wrist shot past Niemi. It was Detroit’s first goal in about 115 minutes of the series, nearly two full games.
It was also Detroit’s lone power play goal in six chances. San Jose was 1-for-5 on the power play in Game 2 and 1-for-6 with the man advantage in Game 1.
One of the more puzzling issues for the Red Wings are the penalties they have been taking against the Sharks. The Red Wings were 26th in the league, averaging 9.2 penalty minutes per game during the regular season. However, in the playoffs, Mike Babcock’s troops are eighth out of 16 teams by averaging 12.8 penalty minutes.
A hot topic heading into Wednesday’s Game 3 was whether Babcock will tweak the lineup. Mike Modano and Kris Draper were healthy scratches in the first two games.
Modano could replace Jiri Hudler, who played 8 minutes 33 seconds in Game 2 and didn't have a shot on goal (14:30 in Game 1, three shots). And, Draper's ability to get after the puck and his experience could push someone such as Drew Miller out of the lineup.