It will be status quo for the Detroit Red Wings’ lineup as they prepare for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final Sunday at Joe Louis Arena against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“We’re not going have anyone enter tonight,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said, meaning injured centres Pavel Datsyuk (foot) and Kris Draper (groin) will sit for another game.
Draper, who will miss his fourth straight game, took part in Sunday morning’s optional skate, but Datsyuk, absent the past five games, did not.
“I think it’s the same,” Babcock said of Datsyuk’s healing progress.
“They did a ton of work on him [Saturday]. My son said to me after the game, ‘Dad, Pav can hardly walk.’ I said, ‘Yeah, but if you worked out as hard as he does all day long to try to get back, you could hardly walk, either.’
“He was limping coming out of the building [Saturday] night, so there’s no chance for him [in Game 2].
Both of the Wings’ Swedish defencemen who returned to the ice for Game 1 after missing playing time reported no after-effects from their resumption of hostilities.
“I feel good,” said Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who missed two games with an undisclosed lower-body injury. “A little bit tired after [Saturday’s] game, but I’m ready to go tonight again.”
Jonathan Ericsson, back after just a one-game departure due to an emergency appendectomy, also reported no ill effects.
“I feel pretty good today,” Ericsson said. “It’s no worse than it was before [Game 1].”
Babcock was taking great delight in observing the one-on-one duel between Detroit centre Henrik Zetterberg and Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby in Saturday’s opener, resuming their war last year ago that concluded with Zetterberg capturing the Conn Smythe Trophy as Stanley Cup MVP.
“The battle they had going was great,” Babcock said.
“I thought [Crosby] went head-hunting right off the hop and [Zetterberg’s] ability to respond was good.
“I think that’s a game within the game. If you’re a hockey purist and you like superstars who bring it, that’s a nice match-up.”
Considered the club’s Achilles' heel when Detroit entered the playoffs, instead, Wings goalie Chris Osgood posted his ninth Stanley Cup final victory in Game 1, second only to Terry Sawchuk (17) in franchise history. He’s 9-2 in Cup final play.
Still, even he admitted his regular-season performance was sub-par and Osgood took full responsibility for that.
“I enjoyed it too much,” Osgood said of Detroit’s 2008 Cup win. “That's the truth.”
When he got to training camp for the 2008-09 season, Osgood acknowledged that his motivation simply wasn’t there.
“Mentally, you go from playing in a great series against Pittsburgh in the final and these games are huge,” he said. “You wonder, ‘How am I going to get up for a game on Tuesday when it's snowing against Minnesota at home in Detroit?’
“That's something I had to work my way through. It's amazing. At 36, I've played a long time. You still have things that you have to learn and adjust to. That was one of them.”
Babcock compared Osgood’s usual role on the team to that played by Don (Zippy) Zimmer, longtime bench coach with the New York Yankees. “We used to call him Zimmer a while back because of Joe Torre's bench boss there with the Yankees years ago,” Babcock said.
“He was always there for the coaches to talk to. He was a guy who knew everything that was going on, on the team. We used him as a resource.
“Well, this year, in the first half, he didn't talk to us. That's just because he was off kilter. Ozzie wasn’t being Ozzie.”
It might be a stretch to suggest that Brad Stuart owns the Penguins, but in Stanley Cup final play, the Detroit defenceman certainly makes Pittsburgh pay a price.
Stuart’s bank shot off the back boards and off the behind of Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury opened the scoring in Game 1.
“That was the second-luckiest goal I’ve scored in these playoffs,” said Stuart, whose other post-season tally came in Game 2 of the second round against Anaheim, when a shot deflected off his leg, off the skate of Ducks defenceman James Wisniewski and into the net.
Stuart produced 1-4-5 totals against Pittsburgh during the six games of the 2008 final, including the winning goal in Game 2. With two playoff goals, Stuart has equalled his total output during 67 regular-season games this season.
During the regular season, Stuart has also proven a nuisance to Pittsburgh, scoring six goals in 13 career games against the Penguins.
This is the 11th time in NHL history that the two Stanley Cup finalists have been paired for the following season's championship. Seven out of those 11 times, the team that won the first meeting also captured the second and there’s a familiar pattern that’s been followed which should prove to a positive for the Wings.
In all seven of those repeat performances, the reigning Cup champions won Game 1.
The three times that the defending champs were dethroned – in 1984, when Edmonton toppled the New York Islanders, in 1956, when Montreal downed Detroit and in 1933, when the New York Rangers defeated Toronto – the defending champions lost Game 1.
Tonight’s game marks the first time since April 9-10, 1955 that there’s been Stanley Cup final games played on successive nights, but Lidstrom felt that the back-to-back contests wasn’t that big of a deal.
“Usually you travel after a game like [Saturday] night and you have to play somewhere else,” Lidstrom said of regular-season two-games-in-two-nights scenarios.
“Now we’re at home and that helps. It makes it a lot easier when you’re coming out to play that second game.”
Wings equipment manager Paul Boyer must have been a Boy Scout in his youth, because he’s prepared for anything.
When Ericsson lost his helmet during Game 1 action, Boyer quickly outfitted Ericsson with another helmet on the bench and he didn’t miss a beat.
“I keep an extra helmet on the bench in case someone loses one during play,” Boyer said. “It’s easily adjustable, only takes a couple of seconds.
“Ericsson wore it for a shift [Saturday] night after he lost his helmet during the play. What we're trying to do is make sure nobody misses a shift because they've lost their helmet.”
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