Phil Coffey | NHL.com Editorial Director PITTSBURGH – One doesn’t have to have advanced knowledge in calculus to realize both the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins are looking at the numbers when it comes to what a win in Saturday’s Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS, NHL Radio) will mean.
For the Wings, a road win gives them a 3-1 edge heading back for a potential Cup clincher in Detroit on Monday night.
For the Pens, another home win ties the series and sets up a best-of-3 series for the Stanley Cup.
So, there is more than a lot on the line in Game 4.
"It's the same challenge for us that we (had) in Game 3," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "Game 3, we're saying this is a challenge for us. It was an important game. We're in the same position. So we're going to take this as a challenge, because I like the way we respond to the challenge.
"Challenge is important. Good athletes like the challenge. They're at their best when the challenge is there. They're able to bring their game to another level when the challenge is there. We've been facing a lot of challenges this year, and I really like the way that we always respond when the challenge is there, because we've got the right attitude when we approach a game with a good challenge."
Sidney Crosby said the Pens were buoyed to see their hard work finally pay off in Game 3 after two frustrating losses to open the series in Detroit.
"It was just rewarding for us, knowing that we played more of the right way that we needed to play and got some results from it, because definitely in Game 1 we didn't play the right way," Corsby said. "We didn't deserve to win. And Game 2, we started to come around a bit, and finally in Game 3 we're more where we needed to be. But we still have some room to improve, there's no doubt. We need to keep getting better. We know that they're a team with a lot of pride and a lot of experience, and they're not going to accept losing either. So it's going to be a tough win here."
The Red Wings may play Game 4 without Tomas Holmstrom, their first line winger, who was injured in Game 3 and did not skate Friday.
"I do a lot of stuff with kids cancer, and there's a thing called HIPAA-compliance where you can never reveal anything about the person, how come we have to do it in the League?" Wings coach Mike Babcock said Friday, half jokingly, when asked about Holmstrom’s injury. "Oh, anyway, Holmer's just got … Holmer's got the back of his leg, the hamstring. He's got a little problem there. We think he'll be fine. He's a tough guy."
Babcock said the final decision will be up to Holmstrom, but the coach expects him to play. If not, Daniel Cleary will move on to the line with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, and veteran Darren McCarty will return to the lineup.
"He's a guy who is always there," Crosby said of Holmstrom's usual place in front of the net. "That's where he scores all his goals. He creates a lot of havoc there. But they have a lot of guys who can fill in that position as well. You look at (Johan) Franzen. And Cleary plays there as well. So it's not like it's a vacant spot if he's not there. So I don't think we're really thinking about that a whole lot. But obviously, I'm sure that's where they'd probably miss him the most is in front of the net. But they definitely have guys who are more than capable to filling that job for sure."
"We just move people around," Babcock said of adjusting to a possible Game 4 minus Holmstrom. "That's what being on a team is all about. You have to pick one another up when someone goes down. When the Mule (Franzen) went down we found a way. I mean, these things just happen in the playoffs. And there's a whole bunch of guys that people in this room don't know about on both teams that are hurt, too. And that's just the way it is. You just find a way to keep playing and the mind drives the body."
Babcock said that a little adversity might help the Wings, noting that trouble during the regular season helped harden his team for this postseason run.
"I think, surely it helps," Babcock said. "I think a classic example was the team that I coached in, I don't know, three years ago or whatever, when we played terrible, we won. We won all year long no matter what. We had the fifth best record of all time, and we were out in six games.
"And we weren't as good as a team as the last two years, but we won all the time. And I don't think we were prepared for when things didn't go our way, when the puck wouldn't go in the net. So, I think adversity is a great thing in life to make you better. I think a lot of teams go through it. And in the end you always hope you're going to overcome and have a chance to be there at the end. And we're fortunate this year we're in a good situation at this time. We just gotta keep working hard."