Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Players downplay Octopi fuss

Categories: DET vs. PHO, Detroit Red Wings, Phoenix Coyotes

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Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov wonders what all the octopi fuss is about. (Paul Sakuma/Associated Press) Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov wonders what all the octopi fuss is about. (Paul Sakuma/Associated Press)

An eight-legged freak out was the talk of the town on the eve of Saturday night's (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 1 p.m. ET) Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Western Conference quarter-final series between the Detroit Red Wings and Phoenix Coyotes.

A fan who threw an octopus on the Joe Louis Arena ice surface during Detroit's 4-2 victory in Game 1 was fined $500 US and issued a court date for violating a city bylaw prohibiting the tossing of objects into the playing area of an athletic contest that might cause injury.

The throwing of objects onto the ice surface is prohibited by the National Hockey League and persons caught doing so may be subject to prosecution for violating local and state laws, read a statement on the matter released by the Red Wings.

Players on both sides of the battle were issuing statements of their own.

"It's part of the tradition here," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "I just hope the guys that come on to scrape it off aren't digging up the ice. I want it to be smooth."

Personally, Babcock insisted he had nothing against octopi.

"I like calamari as much as they next guy," he said. "I don't like batter on it, but I like it spicy and cooked."

Phoenix goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov was another who wondered what all the fuss was about.

"It's nothing really," Bryzgalov said. "They are not throwing the whole octopus on me. Otherwise, I would stink."

Injury updates

It appears that both teams will retain status quo with the lineups that performed in Game 1.
Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg (knee sprain) remains out of the Wings' lineup.
"Hank skated by himself," Babcock said. "He's not going to play in Game 2. He'll continue to be day to day.''

A Wings source suggested that it would be Game 5 or 6 of the series at the earliest before Zetterberg is available to the team.

Meanwhile, Coyotes defenceman Derek Morris (upper body) will also remain on the sidelines for Game 2. He's day to day, Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said.

"He didn't skate again today."

Tippett was pleased by the performance of rookie David Schlemko, who drew in to play for Morris.

"He's been pretty good," Tippett said. "He was fine the other night.

"It's not as if he hasn't played this year. He's played a lot for us with the injuries to our blue-line that we've had. He's a young player that's come along and given us real quality minutes. We feel very comfortable with him. He's a good puck mover, smart player."

Experience factor

A Stanley Cup resume is considered invaluable at this time of the year and Coyotes forward Ray Whitney, who won a Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006, explained one element of its value that he has learned over the years.

"The year we won the Cup, we got pounded 6-1 at home [by Montreal] to start the playoffs," Whitney recalled. "Losing the first one isn't the end of the world.

"How you respond in the second game, though, is very important. I expect us to be much better."

Justin's time

With Zetterberg out, Justin Abdelkader has stepped up to fill a role on the second line between veterans Todd Bertuzzi and Dan Cleary.

"We had a lot of injuries there and I got a lot more opportunity," Abdelkader said of the second half of Detroit's season. "Confidence is huge in this game. When you're confident in yourself it goes a long way."

Babcock likes Abdelkader as much for his size as his skill. At this point in his career, he's not a gifted playmaker, but he's a big, strong, 225-230 pound guy, he's hard to play against, he's very determined, and he's good in the faceoff circle," Babcock said. "Otherwise, we're not as big down the middle. So it's great to have a heavy body in that spot."