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NHL Playoffs 2011, Series Recap: Sharks Survive Red Wings In Seven Games

The San Jose Sharks were in complete control of this series, taking a 3-0 series lead and dominating every aspect of the game. But the veteran Detroit Red Wings won three straight games via third period comeback and forced a Game Seven. But the young kids came through for the Sharks, as Devin Setoguchi and Logan Couture both scored goals to clinch the series and prevent San Joe from becoming the fourth team in NHL history to blow a 3-0 series lead. From the series preview:

These are two evenly matched, offensively minded veteran teams with question marks at the blue line and in net. This should be an extremely fast, high scoring series that will likely go the distance. In the end, the Sharks slight advantage behind the blue line should help them in a very tight series that could go either way. Expect this one to go the distance.

San Jose in seven games.

The Sharks did win in seven games, but this series should have been finished in four or five games. The Red Wings comeback was valiant, but they lost to the better team. Six of the seven games in this series were decided by a single goal, with two of these games decided in overtime.

What Happened To Detroit?

The Red Wings ran out of steam. After losing three straight games to begin the series, many counted them for dead even though each game was a closely fought affair. Jimmy Howard was superb in goal for the second straight series, eliminating their main weakness. Detroit's top players Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lindstrom, and Henrik Zetterberg all showed up in this series, but they didn't get enough contribution from their younger players. The Red Wings may have plenty of top offensive talent, but their depth was tested.

What Have We Learned About San Jose?

The Sharks' young talent shone in this series, especially Setoguchi and Couture. These two young players provided another level of offense that was too much for Detroit's aging defensive corps to completely contain. Ryane Clowe, Joe Pavelski, and Dan Boyle all played well in this series, using their energy and athleticism to push the advantage. Boyle and Ian White were the difference in this series, as their offensive contributions combined with their work against the top Detroit forwards won Game Seven. When the deciding game turned physical and hard-hitting, the Sharks' defensemen completely clogged the blue line and prevented the Red Wings puck possession game from every getting started. In a close series, that's all it took to swing the series towards San Jose.

Moving forward, the Sharks have made their second consecutive Conference Finals, but have yet to get over the hump into the Stanley Cup Finals. They have a good goaltender, waves of offensive talent, and young, athletic defensemen. Their mental fortitude is still in question after the near-collapse against Detroit, but they match up well against the Vancouver Canucks. If there was ever a year that the Sharks can finally play for the Cup, this is that year.