Game 6 of the series between the Red Wings and Sharks will either continue a seemingly improbable comeback or end Detroit's season. It now becomes the most crucial game of the 2011 NHL playoffs for both teams, as Detroit wants to force a trip back to San Jose for Game 7 and the Sharks want to clinch a spot in the Western Conference Finals against the Canucks.
The potential heroes for Game 6 could very well be guys that haven't played much at all during this series or in the playoffs in general. Game 6 will feature lineup changes for both teams, and for Detroit there will be no Johan Franzen. His ankle injury was so bad during Game 5 that it kept Franzen out for the third period, and on Tuesday night he will not play at all. Instead Mike Modano will make his series debut and take Franzen's spot.
The Sharks will be without forward Ryane Clowe, who didn't even make the trip due to "flu-like symptoms." In Game 5, Clowe was checked hard by Niklas Kronwall, so it's possible that could be why he is out. In the NHL playoffs teams are very secretive about injuries, so it wouldn't be surprising if he wasn't really dealing with flu-like symptoms.
Whatever the case, Clowe and Franzen will not play in Game 6. Considering Franzen's injury has made him so ineffective, I don't think losing him on Tuesday night will be a huge blow for Detroit. He might as well have been sidelined all series with how he has played. For San Jose, however, losing Clowe could be an important storyline. He hasn't scored yet in this series, but he does have six assists, including four in the last two games. Obviously San Jose lost both of those games, but Clowe played a big part in the score being so close when all was said and done.
If the Red Wings can win on Tuesday night at the Joe, Game 7 will be held on Thursday in San Jose. If the Sharks win, the Wings' comeback attempt and season will be over.