Monday, January 19, 2004

GameDay: @ San Jose (20-11-11-4, 55) 8:00 EST

Tonight is the second of four games these two teams will play with each other this season. The Wings won the first game 3-2 in overtime on December 17. The Wings are 4-1-1-1 in the month of January and in their most recent game, tied the Coyotes 3-3 on Friday night. They are 9-9-3-2 on the road this year but are 20-7-5-1 against Western Conference opponents. In the Central Division, the Blues are still six points behind the Wings, who have a two-point lead on Colorado and Vancouver for first place in the Conference. The Wings also lead the league overall by two points with 61. Toronto and Philadelphia are the other two teams with 59. The Sharks are 5-2-1 so far in January and won their last game 2-1 in Denver on Saturday. They are 9-4-7-2 at home this year but are 17-9-5-3 against Western Conference teams. The Sharks have a six-point lead of their own in their Pacific Division (over the LA Kings) and if the playoffs were to start tomorrow, they would automatically be in the #3 spot. As it is, they have the fifth-highest points total in the West. Curtis Joseph should get the nod tonight. The Wings have moved up Steve Thomas' return date to either Wednesday against Anaheim or Thursday against the Kings. The date given yesterday was either Thursday or Saturday. Darren McCarty is week-to-week, according to Dave Lewis. He did practice for 35 minutes or so with the team yesterday. He went with the Wings out west, though not because he is close to playing but so he could continue his training with the team. Mathieu Schneider will return to the ice tonight after serving a two-game suspension for high sticking Boston's Glen Murray on the 10th. The Sharks have been surprisingly good this year and won't be an easy opponent for the Wings tonight. I still think the Wings should win tonight, though, and I expect a good effort out of them. This West Coast trip is an important one because of its length and they need to start it off on the right foot with a solid game tonight. 1/19 News 1/19 Freep ESPN


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