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Later tonight on NBCSN: Sharks look to continue Red Wings’ road misery

Mar 17, 2012, 11:20 AM EDT

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Justin Abdelkader, Ryane Clowe AP

It’s the final game of a four-game road trip for the Detroit Red Wings, and they couldn’t be happier to see it ending. The San Jose Sharks, however, would like to see them head back home winless after the two square off at the Shark Tank (10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Detroit’s road trip has been a nightmare. From not having stars like Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom already to dropping three in a row to playoff rivals and hopefuls alike in Nashville, Los Angeles, and Anaheim, you couldn’t ask for things to be any worse. While they’ll get Datsyuk back in the lineup tonight, they’ll lose Johan Franzen in the process. Meanwhile, Lidstrom’s prognosis continues to get murkier as he’ll be out at least another week.

The Wings have dropped five of their last six games and are just one point ahead of Nashville for fourth in the Western Conference. With the Blues pulling away in the Central (they lead by seven on Detroit), the Wings’ focus for now should be on making sure they get home ice in the first round.

San Jose, meanwhile, is in the perilous position of just trying to get into the playoffs. The Sharks are one point back of both Phoenix and Colorado for seventh and eighth in the West, but they’re also tied with Los Angeles and Calgary. It’s not the wild, wild, west without a reason after all.

San Jose is starting to get things turned around. They’ve won two of their last three after suffering through a five-game losing streak. Given that it’s the West and everyone seems to make a run at some point, the Sharks are hoping that time is now for them so they can secure a playoff spot.

Now that Martin Havlat is back in action, San Jose is hopeful that he’ll be the key to sparking their slumping offense. After all, since they traded Jamie McGinn to Colorado, things haven’t gone too well. While the offense has been rough, they could stand to use a better effort out of Antti Niemi in goal while they’re at it. Then again, with how Jimmy Howard and Joey MacDonald have played in goal of late, maybe Niemi won’t need to be a superstar for just this game.

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