Red Wings or Sharks? ‘I dislike them both equally,’ Patrick Sharp says
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org May 11, 2013 7:36PM
Updated: June 13, 2013 7:29PM
The Detroit Red Wings or San Jose Sharks? Winger Patrick Kane has learned to be careful whom you root for.
‘‘I think last year maybe we were hoping we would end up playing Phoenix, and it kind of went against us,’’ Kane said. ‘‘I think we learned from that.’’
So for the record — and maybe even in their hearts — the Hawks don’t care whether they play the seventh-seeded Red Wings or the sixth-seeded Sharks in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. If the Red Wings beat the Anaheim Ducks in Game 7 of a first-round series Sunday, the Hawks will play them. If the Ducks win, they’ll face the Sharks.
‘‘Whoever you’re playing is going to be a tough matchup,’’ Kane said. ‘‘They’ve both had great seasons and have great teams. Detroit’s giving Anaheim a run for their money when Anaheim was a No. 2 seed. San Jose pretty much dominated the series against Vancouver [winning 4-0], so both teams will be tough. Can’t really wish for too much, I guess.’’
The Blackhawks were 4-0-0 against the Red Wings during the regular season, winning 2-1 in overtime and 3-2 in a shootout at the United Center and 2-1 in a shootout and 7-1 at Joe Louis Arena. Corey Crawford won all four games, with a 1.19 goals-against average and a .960 save percentage.
The Hawks were 3-0-0 against the Sharks, winning 5-3 in San Jose and 4-1 and 2-1 at the United Center. Crawford won in San Jose; Ray Emery started both games at home.
‘‘If you’re asking me which team I like better . . . I dislike them both equally,’’ winger Patrick Sharp said. ‘‘It doesn’t make any difference to me who we play. If we sit around saying, ‘We want to play this team,’ we might be in for a surprise. We know what to expect from both teams. Both teams skate well, they’re physical, they’re well-coached. It’s going to be a battle.’’
Either foe will provide juicier story lines than the Minnesota Wild did in the first round. The Sharks have former Hawks goalie Antti
Niemi, combative center Joe Thornton and the memory of a 4-0 series loss to Niemi and the Hawks in the Western Conference finals in 2010. The Red Wings are the Red Wings.
‘‘I don’t think it’s going to be a huge difference if we play Detroit or San Jose,’’ defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. ‘‘Both top lines are one of the best in the league. It’s just a matter of trying to focus on your own game.’’