Expect Red Wings to complete miracle comeback
STEVE MacFARLANE, QMI Agency
A lot of people are comparing the Detroit Red Wings/San Jose Sharks second-round series to the Vancouver Canucks/Chicago Blackhawks set from the first round.
The difference is simple — the Detroit Red Wings will actually complete the comeback.
While it was great to see the Blackhawks take the Canucks to Game 7 in the opening round after the defending Stanley Cup champions fell behind three games to none and looked doomed, they couldn’t quite pull off the epic finish when they fell to the Canucks in overtime on Alex Burrows’ slapper.
Bettors might want to hop on the Red Wings to do what the Hawks could not. They face a Sharks team that looks ready to add to its impressive playoff-chokers legacy with the biggest display of self-destruction to date.
Thursday’s Game 7 showdown comes on home ice for the Sharks, but they coughed up their last opportunity to clinch at the Shark Tank, giving up four straight goals to the visiting Wings in a 4-3 loss in Game 5.
If they were fragile then, they’re made of Hollywood glass now. As for the Red Wings, it’s down to a one-game, winner-take-all scenario, and they couldn’t be any more confident after storming back in the series.
Blood is in the water, but it’s not the Sharks going for the kill anymore. Although just three NHL teams in the history of seven-game series have completed the comeback and won the deciding contest, this is the third time in two playoff seasons teams have erased 3-0 deficits just to force a single-game showdown.
And the Red Wings are set to beat the odds. They’ve got a veteran-laden roster filled with guys who have plenty of experience in Game 7 situations and in big playoff games.
Who would you rather have in the crunch? Wings Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Tomas Holmstrom and Henrik Zetterberg supported by veterans Kris Draper and Mike Modano. Or Sharks Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle and Ian White?
Give me the team with the most proven winners on it every time. In this case, it’s the Wings, hands down.
Stops and starts
The Vancouver Canucks are sitting back with their feet up waiting for their opponent in the Western Conference final, and say they have no preference who they play. Their regular-season records against the Sharks and Wings seem to back that up. They went to two extra-time games against each, losing one to the Sharks in a shootout and two to the Red Wings — one in overtime and another in a shootout ... Big defensive defenceman Douglas Murray had a great twist on the cliche talk about his Sharks having to stick to the team strategy in Game 7: “If you see me trying to skate through the whole team, we’re in big trouble.”
If the Czech Republic’s Jaromir Jagr is using the world championship to audition for a return to the NHL, the hat-trick against Team U.S.A. Wednesday was a helluva way to grab some attention. He said earlier this month he was considering coming back to North America if anyone was interested and suggested he could play on a second or third line. Don’t count him out for top-line duty somewhere on a one-year deal ... The Canucks are is 3-0 when Chris Higgins scores. My awful playoff pool squad also gets a boost ... Leafs forward Colby Armstrong tossed out the first pitch at the Jays game Wednesday night. He should definitely stick with hockey.
Dump and chase
Tough year for Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Chris Pronger, who now has to have back surgery. Not a lot of his critics feel pity for him, but his sense of humour during interviews is appreciated by at least one former teammate, who candidly told me this year, “He’s an a--hole, but he’s a funny a--hole.” ... Best playoff beard was Shea Weber’s. Worst has to be the Lightning’s Vincent Lecavalier ... Another summer, another lesson for Hawks youngster Patrick Kane. If you’re going to bring home a stranger, at least sleep lightly ... Bolts G Dwayne Roloson is 41. His coach, Guy Boucher, is 39. No punchline, just an interesting tidbit.
“Can’t wait to see @armdog just throw a muffin at the jays game tonight. #onehopper”
— Leafs’ Luca Caputi (@Lputi17)
“Pretty cool moment at SF airport. I saw Pierre LeBrun see Kevin Bacon.”
— NHL.com’s Dave Lozo (@DaveLozo)
“Can’t believe my favorite player growing up took out my country men like that #jagrisfilthyMcNasty”
— Predators’ Colin Wilson (@ColinW33)