I don’t know what the future holds, but tonight’s Detroit Red Wings vs. San Jose Sharks contest could be the hockey game of the year. The Red Wings are a perennial juggernaut but this year they’ve had to battle back from a 0-3 series deficit and force a Game 7. The Sharks, who eliminated the Wings from the playoffs last year, are probably the best franchise of the last decade or so not to win a Stanley Cup. The winner of this game will have to get through Vancouver, but my guess is that the winner also will lift the Cup.
Is it just me or have this year’s NHL playoffs been great? Four series in the first round went to seven games. The second-round Wings-Sharks series has been outstanding, with each game decided by a single goal (except game six but only because of an empty-netter at the end), two overtimes, a bunch of lead changes, and the improbable comeback that (as a native Detroiter) I hope culminates in a Wings victory tonight.
My only disappointment has been with the Washington Capitals, the only non-Michigan sports team to which I have an emotional attachment. Their collapse against the Tampa Bay Lightning is a head scratcher. Despite what some say, I don’t think they need to change much for next season. They’re still a great team and they’ll be back. But the NHL playoffs are always hard and full of surprises.
Prediction for tonight: Datsyuk scores the winner in the third period for Detroit.