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Five Thoughts: Pavel Datsyuk continues to impress; Roenick sounds off on Patrick Marleau

May 9, 2011, 9:30 AM EDT

Pavel Datsyuk AP

Last night’s incredible comeback by the Red Wings to beat the Sharks and send the series to a Game 6 has us really spinning our wheels about just what in the world is going on.

1. In a playoffs where we’re seeing unknown guys get a lot of the headlines while some superstars get ripped for not showing up enough, there’s one guy that continues to amaze and solidify his legacy as one of the best in the NHL. Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk continues to do things with the puck and play the sort of game that just brings you out of your seat when he rushes up the ice with the puck.

During last night’s 4-3 Game 5 win over San Jose, Datsyuk was supposedly playing with a hurt wrist. He wasn’t doing his normal part in taking the bulk of faceoffs but instead was dazzling Sharks defenders with his ability to wheel out of a cluster of players and help set up the game-winning goal in the third period. His assist on Tomas Holmstrom‘s game winner was his third assist of the game.

While Detroit is still down 3-2 in the series, should they find a way to get past the Sharks and deeper into the playoffs, his case for the Conn Smythe Trophy should write itself. For now, he’ll need to keep doing his superhuman things to try and force a Game 7 at the least.

2. Jeremy Roenick caused a stir with those watching the post game coverage on Versus last night. Roenick voiced his displeasure with the play of Sharks forward Patrick Marleau saying he played a “gutless” game and lacked the heart to help his team out. Roenick even went as far as to say that 19 of the 20 guys that suited up for the Sharks last night came to play. Never mind that he’s counting backup goalie Antero Niittymaki there as well (and perhaps that was intended)his takedown of Marleau is something we’ve heard from others before. While his words were harsh and Roenick being a former teammate of Marleau’s certainly adds to the drama, in this series he’s got a point.

Against Detroit through five games, Marleau has zero points and is a -2. Marleau did rack up five points (2 goals, 3 assists) against the Kings in the first round, but against Detroit he’s withered away and played very small. Marleau goes through fits like this in the postseason. Last year against Colorado he had a goal and two assists in six games but rebounded great against both Detroit and Chicago. In seasons previous to that, however, his track record shows that when the going gets tough, Marleau tends not to score.

Roenick took to Twitter to say that he wants to see Marleau play angrier and with a purpose because it makes him a better player. Perhaps JR’s words will give Marleau the spark he needs to prove Roenick wrong.

3. Detroit needed Jimmy Howard to play huge in Game 5. They didn’t necessarily need him to steal them a game, but they needed him to play huge. They got just that from him as he again faced over 40 shots (42 this time) and made 39 saves, many of them spectacular to get the win. The Sharks have been throwing tons of shots at the net in these playoffs and while Jon Quick suffered from that in the first round, Howard has thrived. Now that he’s getting the offensive support, the Wings are winning. With each of the games in the series being decided by one goal, it’s performances like last night that make all the difference.

4. The psychological mettle of the Sharks is something that many bring into question over time thanks to their episodes of playoff failure. They showed last year that they could get over such things when they struggled with Colorado in the opening round but ultimately won out before beating up on Detroit in the second round. Getting swept by Chicago in the West finals wasn’t a shock considering how good they were.

This year, the script started the same struggling a bit with the Kings. Now they’re fighting with the Wings and while still one win away from moving to the West finals again, dealing with the Wings is never a simple matter. These Wings, unlike last year’s, aren’t gassed from just making the postseason. The Sharks have a handful of players who show no mental blocks. Guys like Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture are too new to be affected by anything in the past. Still, the rest of the team tightens up a bit when things start getting tough. How they handle things going ahead is worth paying attention to closely because if Detroit keeps hitting them where it counts, history leads us to believe that’s really bad for the Sharks.

5. How the series between San Jose and Detroit might pan out could hinge on how some of the depth defensive pairs work out for both teams. We saw some bad play from Brad Stuart and Jonathan Ericsson for the Wings and from Ian White and Niclas Wallin for San Jose. Teams have taken advantage of those matchups and you’d better believe that Mike Babcock and Todd McLellan will be juggling things around to get their top guys out against them. It’s worth paying attention to in Game 6.

  1. zestypickles - May 9, 2011 at 9:36 AM

    JR’s an idiot. Made a career out of losing to the Red Wings. Most of the Versus guys did, for that matter.

    In other news, it’s no longer the wings coming back from down 3 games. It’s them down 3-2. Which happens often. I got my money on the winged wheel, thanks to the man Versus seems to worship, the otherworldly JoeThornton. Can he do no wrong?

  2. polegojim - May 9, 2011 at 10:52 AM

    Datsyuk is a hockey players – hockey player. His ice presence freezes defenders and causes them to frequently second guess their positioning. “I got him, no you got him, wait, where did he go???”
    At that moment, it’s too late.

    Thornton has done well. The Sharks have size and speed, but the Wings are back in it with savvy and skill.

    Turned into an awesome series- a tale of two series. Tight and low scoring at first, breaking out since then. Eddie and Jeremy are ‘both’ right, they called opposing results and we’re seeing both.

    Next score: 3-2 Detroit

  3. polegojim - May 9, 2011 at 11:40 AM

    PS – my ‘DISrespect’ for Joe Thornton has greatly increased after his run at Datsyuk after the horn.

    Thornton the Thug has returned and the ‘classy’ Sharks are NOT.

    Frustration is one thing – that was embarrassing for San Jose.

    I hope Kronwall lines Captain Joe up NEXT~

    • dreadpiratesteve - May 9, 2011 at 11:53 AM

      Like Roenick or not he is 100% right about Marleau. This guy plays for a paycheck and that is it. He’s a gutless, heartless clown who plays just hard enough to not get hurt. Everyone else on San Jose played hard. If I was on that team I’d be stomping a mudhole in Patrick Marleau in the locker room post game to make sure he can’t take the ice in game 6 and cost us another one. What a loser.

    • polegojim - May 9, 2011 at 3:47 PM

      My mistake, it was Cleary he ran at.

  4. hockeybiasdotcom - May 10, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    It won’t be easy (as has been the case with most so many of this year’s playoff games), but I won’t be surprised if the banged-up Wings find a way, somehow, to take this to game 7. Playing at home, with momentum, will be a big plus. Having said that, the Sharks will not go down easily and I can’t help but think that, at least in a minor way, the Roenick comments regarding Marleau could rally the Sharks.

    …I am not sure if Thornton has a history of diving, this amateur hour dive makes me think he is new to the tactic; http://www.hockeybias.com/hockey-news-past/2011/May/Franzen-Slashes-Thornton-Dives-Game-5-West-Conf-Semi–video.html , but if it is a sign of nervous desperation then that is another variable in favor of the Wings. Should be fun!

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