Red Wings Notebook: Top line turned loose on road
The Red Wings' Tomas Holmstrom celebrates his goal against the Penguins Monday at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
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DETROIT -- As the road team, the Detroit Red Wings will lose their right to make the last change in personnel on the ice when they play Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final tonight at Mellon Arena.
Coach Mike Babcock isn't so sure that's an advantage for the Penguins, who are trying to come back from a 2-0 deficit in the series.
After an optional practice at Joe Louis Arena and before his team flew to Pittsburgh yesterday, Babcock said he won't be concerned about making sure his top line of Henrik Zetterberg centering for Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom is on the ice against the Penguins' top line centered by Sidney Crosby.
"At home, what we've done is we've matched [Zetterberg] against Crosby the whole time," Babcock said. "Now, what we're going to do is let [that top line] go and let them try to generate offense. We'll match up with whoever we get. We're just going to roll our lines out the gate and make sure we've got the right matchup on the back."
Meaning, he will still try to get his top defensive pairing of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski on the ice against Crosby.
"I sometimes think you overcoach," Babcock said. "You get in the way of letting the guys have rhythm.
"[In Game 2], they kept taking Crosby off the ice, so to me they were trying to avoid that matchup. In the end, that's what happened when our [top] line scored against their fourth line."
That was Holmstrom's goal to make it 2-0 when the Penguins' forwards on the ice were Pascal Dupuis, Adam Hall and Jarkko Ruutu.
Wings historically burned
Just three teams have come back from a 2-0 deficit in the final series to win the Stanley Cup since the best-of-seven format began in 1939 -- but Detroit was on the bad end of that equation twice.
The Red Wings won the first two games against Toronto in 1942 and against Montreal in '66, but those teams came back to beat Detroit. The Red Wings actually won the first three games of that '42 series before folding.
The other team to climb out of a 2-0 hole was Montreal, which came back to beat Chicago in 1971.
All the more reason to clamp the door shut tonight, the Red Wings said.
"We have to look at it like it's a must-win, like they do," said defenseman Brad Stuart, who got the first goal of Game 2.
"We don't want to give them any life. We want to go in and do the same things we were doing here, just in a different building."
In his first game back after missing six because of concussion-like symptoms, Johan Franzen played 16:21, had an assist, two shots, three hits, a plus-minus rating of plus-2 -- and absorbed a punch or high elbow from rugged Penguins winger Gary Roberts in the third period.
Asked if Roberts went for his head, Franzen said, "It's pretty big, so I think so. Hard to miss."
Asked if he thought it was a cheap shot, Franzen said, "Maybe, but I've got to be ready for it."
Some of his teammates weren't as forgiving.
Darren McCarty suggested the spot Roberts hit Franzen had everything to do with his ailment.
"That's why you don't like to disclose injuries in the playoffs," McCarty said.
Before the series began, Penguins center Sidney Crosby called Detroit winger Daniel Cleary a "Newfie."
It wasn't an insult.
Cleary is from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland; Crosby from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. Crosby figured that gave Atlantic Canada a double reason to closely follow the final.
Cleary, however, would like to separate himself and just represent Newfoundland.
"Sidney, being from Cole Harbour, he's the face of hockey, certainly a great player, but he's not from Newfoundland," Cleary said. "I'm a little bit farther east. I think we both probably represent provinces at this point."
Cleary, in his first game without wearing full face protection while recovering from a broken jaw, had a goal in Game 1.
He is the second Newfie and first in more than 40 years -- since Detroit's Alex Faulkner in 1963 and '64 -- to compete in the Stanley Cup final.
Cleary, with 209 points in 540 games, ranks second in NHL scoring among players born in Newfoundland, behind Keith Brown (342). Brown was with the Chicago Blackhawks when they lost to the Penguins in the 1992 Stanley Cup final but missed that series because of a shoulder injury.
"Everybody is kind and generous," Cleary said of Newfies. "I know in my town you can pretty much knock on any door and if you need something, they'll help you out. That's something people pride themselves in. Good people. Funny people."
First Published May 28, 2008 12:00 am