Note: We are previewing the Western Conference semifinal series which begins today. You can wait for the other three previews tomorrow.
Sharks vs. (5) Red Wings
Sharks Leading Postseason Scorer: Joe Pavelski (right), eight points (five goals, three assists).
Red Wings Leading Postseason Scorer: Henrik Zetterberg, 11 points (six goals, five assists).
Sharks with Stanley Cup bling: Dan Boyle, Rob Blake, Kent Huskins, Niclas Wallin.
Red Wings with Stanley Cup bling: Dan Cleary, Pavel Datsyuk (2), Aaron Downey, Kris Draper (4), Valtteri Filppula, Johan Franzen, Darren Helm, Tomas Holmstrom (4), Nicklas Kronwall, Brett Lebda, Nicklas Lidstrom (4), Andreas Lilja, Kirk Maltby (4), Brad May, Drew Miller, Chris Osgood (3), Brian Rafalski (3), Brad Stuart, Jason Williams, Henrik Zetterberg.
Something worthwhile about the Sharks: Evgeni Nabokov's 1.76 goals against average is the second-lowest total in this postseason.
Something worthwhile about the Red Wings: The Red Wings had a 3-1-0 record against the Sharks in the regular season.
Something useless about the Sharks that is vaguely connected to the Penguins: Link Gaetz holds the Sharks franchise record for penalities in a game. He took eight in an 7-3 home loss to the Penguins, March 6, 1992.
Something useless about the Red Wings that is vaguely connected to the Penguins: The last player to wear No. 12 for the Red Wings prior to it's retirement in honor of Sid Abel was former Penguins forward Bob Errey.
Former Penguins on the Sharks : None.
Former Penguins on the Red Wings: Larry Murphy, broadcaster.
Who needs to be the difference for the Sharks: Evgeni Nabokov. The Sharks as a team are dogged by a reputation as being poor playoff performers. And while a superstar like Joe Thornton might get the most attention in that regard, but Nabokov might be the one who deserves most of the attention. He needs to put aside whatever playoff demons he suffers from.
Who needs to be the difference for the Red Wings: Johan Franzen (right). The "Mule" has staggered a bit so far these playoffs in terms of production. He only has one goal. He averaged 12.5 goals in each of the past two playoff seasons. He need to re-assume his role as Detroit's most dangerous offensive weapon.
Best Sharks YouTube Video We Could Find: Nabokov scoring a goal early in the 2006-07 season:
Best Red Wings YouTube Video We Could Find: Former Red Wings goaltender Mike Vernon getting made at a goal camera:
EN Prediction: One team is clutch when it comes to the postseason. The other is not. Despite their slightly tougher than expected first-round series with the Coyotes, we don't see how Detroit doesn't win this series. They know how to win in the playoffs and their best players almost always come through. The Sharks don't and their best players almost always fall apart. Red Wings 4-2.
(Photos: Pavelski-Marc Piscotty/Getty Images; Franzen-Jim Prisching/Getty Images)