What's the biggest difference between the Sharks this season and last?

After Friday's morning skate, many Red Wings cited scoring depth, and in turn, the freedom that depth gives Joe Thornton to focus on other areas of his game.

In his first season as San Jose captain, Thornton scored 21 goals and 70 points; his 0.88 points per game was his lowest output since 1999-2000. The team could afford thethanks to a forward corps that featured six other 20-plus goal scorers.

The payoff has been Thornton's improved defensive play, something Detroit's players said changes the way they approach the Sharks.

Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said that Thornton "competes harder" in the defensive zone than in the past, and that it has "elevated his game to another level." Kronwall saw similarities between Thornton's 2010-11 brand of hockey and that of Detroit forward Pavel Datsyuk , in that opposing defensemen have to worry about those players with or without the puck.