Let's get this out of the way, shall we? The officiating wasn't exactly friendly to the Red Wings on Sunday. In fact, there were so many egregiously bad calls made in that contest that
But don't buy into the babblings of the tinfoil-hatted conspiracy nuts who are planning to gather outside the Joe prior to Game 3. There's no NHL cabal plotting to ensure the Wings' demise. (Seriously, why would the league pursue an agenda that would see one of its top markets sidelined?) With bad calls going both ways, the stripes weren't at the root of that 4-3 loss in Game 2. Detroit simply didn't do enough to earn the win.
As a result, the Wings find themselves in an uncomfortable position: down two games to none heading into a pivotal Game 3. It's been seven years since they last dropped the first two games of a series, and that one didn't end well. They were swept in that 2003 first round encounter with the Anaheim Ducks. The year before, however, Detroit fought back from a 2-0 deficit to take down the Vancouver Canucks in six. So I'm saying there's a chance. At least, as long as the Wings focus on addressing the elements of the game that they can control. And that starts with making adjustments in the circle.
As I suggested
The return to
For the Sharks, Game 3 should come down to two elements: maintaining their discipline and getting something out of the reunited first line.
No arguing that the chemistry of the group of late wouldn't meet the exacting specifications of a
That it was Thornton's first of the playoffs is no surprise. It's no secret that he's built a rep as the
Will that unit be together tonight? Hard to believe that McLellan wouldn't give them another chance. So with all defensive eyes shifting to Pavelski's line, it's up to them to provide a consistent second offensive front.
The other element might be more subtle, but it can't be overlooked: The officials aren't deaf to the chatter. They certainly watched the contest on tape and they understand why the Wings feel hard done by. They'll go into this one with the goal of calling a fair and balanced contest, but human nature is what it is and the Sharks may have to deal with a makeup call or two. The trick then will be to limit opportunities for the refs to make those calls by watching their play around the crease and avoiding the urge to retaliate.
This one has to be their smartest game of the season