By Kostya Kennedy, SI.com
A few thoughts on tonight's games in the Western Conference.
Sharks at Stars, 7:30 p.m. ET, TSN
(Stars lead two games to none)
Think playing Calgary for seven games takes a toll? The Sharks wouldn't admit to any lingering effect, but after going to the brink with the scrappy and grating Flames, then losing in OT in Game 1 to Dallas, San Jose's third period breakdown in Game 2 might have been foreseen. Now the Sharks and Stars play three games in four nights, a rough stretch at any time. This is now the time for impact players Patrick Marleau and especially Joe Thornton -- who has played well this postseason -- to reach into their deepest reserves.
Dallas is proving to be a deceptively resourceful team. Their confidence level has steadily grown, Marty Turco has refused to be daunted. The Stars now have Sergei Zubov back and, he says, ready to play increasingly important minutes. Tough stuff. The mettle of the Sharks and the legacy that this talented group will leave may well be defined over the next three nights.
Red Wings at Avalanche, 10 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN
(Wings lead two games to none)
Their at times shaky goaltending and defensive vulnerability, which was exposed during defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom's late season absence, led people to forget just what a good, complete team Detroit is. That they did so well in the regular season doesn't mean they aren't built for the playoffs. Who knows just what Johan Franzen's been fueling up on (I'll have what he's having), but we do know that Lidstrom, the deserving Norris Trophy winner is fully back (and so, by the by, is the Wings' hellbent forward Darren McCarty, which adds a little juice to this rivalry). We also know that if Peter Forsberg is not healthy and producing for the Avalanche -- and perhaps even if he is -- Detroit will make this series a short one. To make matters more ominous for the Avs, Ryan Smyth will be sidelined for Game 3 with a foot injury likely incurred while blocking a shot in Game 2.