Penguins Notebook: Players rooting for a 7-game series
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The Penguins will have a strong rooting interest when they tune in to Game 6 of the Western Conference final between Detroit and Dallas tonight.
Most will be pulling for the Stars. Hard.
Not necessarily because they're hoping to face Dallas in the Stanley Cup final, but because they would like to see that series go seven games. And then have the Stars and Red Wings need four or five overtimes in that one to determine a winner.
"It's been nice seeing Dallas push that series a little bit longer," Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "It's always fun to watch them knock each other around, no matter who you're playing."
Right winger Marian Hossa, meanwhile, said he not only doesn't have a burning interest in who wins that series, but that he doesn't have any real concern about how long it lasts.
"I don't really care what happens there," he said. "We're in a great position now."
There probably is something to be said for Hossa's detached approach. It's obvious that, regardless who they face in the next round, the Penguins will be facing a top-quality opponent.
And that there will be two of those in the series.
"Whoever we're going to play against, one thing we know is we're going to play against a good hockey team," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said.
"But we figure we're a good hockey team as well."
Therrien had said Friday that he did not plan to use Max Talbot at left wing on a line with Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy, even though that unit generated two goals in the third period of Game 4, but decided to use that grouping at the start of the game.
That hardly was the only niche Talbot filled yesterday.
A few minutes later, he was back in his usual spot on the fourth line with Adam Hall and Georges Laraque. Shortly thereafter, he stepped into Pascal Dupuis' place on the left side with Sidney Crosby and Hossa.
Therrien threw in yet another wrinkle before the period ended when he deployed Talbot at right wing on a line with Hall and Jarkko Ruutu. Before the game ended, he also got work between Ryan Malone and Laraque, on the left side with Staal and Laraque and at left wing with Staal and Laraque.
In fact, it seemed like he had at least one shift alongside everyone except backup goalie Ty Conklin.
Not that Talbot seemed to mind.
"Whoever I'm going to play with, I'm going to be out there working hard," Talbot said. "It's fun when you have a chance to hop lines a little bit, get a little bit more ice time."
Flyers coach John Stevens characterized the Penguins as a legitimate threat to defeat the Western survivor.
"I certainly wouldn't count them out," he said. "First of all, they've got very talented players. And on top of that, their talented players have great passion for the game. And their staff has really got them to buy into a real team game.
"So they've got the three ingredients, in my opinion, that you need, in terms of a team. They're solid in every position. Their goalie is playing great, obviously. [Defense] has experience. They've got big guys that are puck-movers and big guys that are stay-at-home, and they've got great depth up front. They're a great team, and they'll be a test for whoever comes out of the West.
Penguins left winger Gary Roberts, who is being treated for a mild case of pneumonia, was scratched for the third consecutive game. The Penguins also played without forwards Jeff Taffe and Kris Beech, defensemen Mark Eaton (knee) and Darryl Sydor and goalie Dany Sabourin. ... The Flyers had a possible goal with 4.6 seconds left in the second period disallowed when it was determined that forward Patrick Thoresen interfered with goalie Marc-Andre Fleury when he tried to make a save. The sequence did not receive an official video review. ... Penguins center Evgeni Malkin said he does not expect his parents to travel here from Russia for the Cup final "because we're winning right now."
First Published May 19, 2008 12:00 am