PITTSBURGH – With Game 7 on the horizon, nobody on either side wants to put out the message that they do not embrace the game as an "opportunity" or a "challenge." Particularly the Detroit Red Wings, who might be seen as a team that failed in trying to put an end to these pesky Penguins in Game 6.
"We’re both these teams have had unbelievable years," said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock. "You understand they don’t just give us a ticket to come here like you [media] guys? We’ve got to earn it. So getting here is hard.
"Now do we want to win? Absolutely. Is the summer better if you win than if you lose? No question about it. But I’d say there are 28 teams sitting at home that would just love to be having this opportunity."
Babcock coached the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in 2003, when they lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final 3-0 to New Jersey. On that Anaheim team was a checking winger named Dan Bylsma, the current head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"To me," Babcock said, "this is something that just adds on to your career. For the players, for coaches, for an organization, for everybody. I think our players should really enjoy the next couple of days in their preparation so that words like fear… don’t enter the picture one bit."
"Jordan wanted the assignment," said Bylsma. "The last shift of the game he had come off and was tired and red-faced, and probably shouldn’t have gone back out there. But he stood up on the end of the bench and said he wanted to go, so we put him out there. That’s what you want from players. You want them to want the scenario, to want the situation, to want the opportunity and then go after it."
"It’s obviously a challenge to play against that line," Staal said. "I was feeling pretty confident last night that we could get the job done. And at any point, any player likes to get out there.
"I was just looking at the coach to hopefully get the nod to get out there."
It is likely a good thing for Pittsburgh that they can win a crucial game in which Crosby — or Evgeni Malkin — is not a key contributor. In fact, Game 6 was the first time since Malkin and Crosby were on the Penguins roster together that the team won a playoff game in which neither scored a point.
Not that there is any doubt over who the leader on this team is, however.
"I think the best thing about Sid’s leadership recently is he’s just doing it on the ice," said defenceman Rob Scuderi. "Some guys are good talkers in the locker room. He does that at times. But I think the best thing that he’s done is just played his game.
"Even [in Game 6], he didn’t have a ton of points, but he played his game. He played our system," Scuderi said. "Maybe he didn’t get a whole lot offensively, but he didn’t give up anything defensively. To me, that is the mark of a good leader."