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The Stanley Cup Final is the talk of Hockeytown

Friday, 05.29.2009 / 9:15 AM / 2009 Stanley Cup Final: Detroit vs. Pittsburgh

By Paul Kukla - NHL.com Correspondent

 
Knowing my next three days will be spent covering the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins while they are in Detroit, I decided to get a few errands out of the way.

Going from the barber shop, to the bank, stopping for a quick coffee and even at the gas station, the Wings are the talk of the town.

How’s Lidstrom, is he playing?  What about Dats (Pavel Datsyuk), what is really wrong with him?  How can Jonathan Ericsson recover from his appendectomy surgery so quickly?  They wanted answers, but I could only say game-time decision.  Although the word is Lidstrom has skated on his own the last two days and he mentioned that he will be playing, I would imagine we will not really know until the pre-game skate on Saturday.

The Wings faithful seem generally concerned about Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.  Can the Wings defense handle their offensive ability for the whole series is the key in the mind of the fans.  If so, they don’t believe the Penguins have enough secondary scoring to defeat the Wings in a seven game series.

Never have I heard so much praise for Chris Osgood.  While at the coffee shop, an Ozzie, Ozzie chant started along with a Let’s Go Red Wings serenade.  You see people are pumped up and I have to be truthful, more into the Stanley Cup Final than I witnessed last year.

Maybe the very rough economic condition in Michigan has something to do with it.  People need an outlet to find some happiness in their lives and the Wings seem to be providing just that.

When Detroit coach Mike Babcock addressed the media after the series clinching win over the Chicago Blackhawks he was asked about the play of Darren Helm.  Babcock said Helm is a blue-collar, hard-working player just like the people from the Detroit region.  That type of statement from Babcock can go a long way for the fans of Detroit.  You see, many are out of a job, but are willing to work hard and find any way to get the job done.  I would not be the least bit surprised to see Helm become a fan favorite and keep that title for a long time in the Motor City.

While driving around the area, getting those errands completed, I had the radio on and the topic was, of course, the Wings.  I heard everything from a sweep by Pittsburgh (Wings are worn out) to a double OT victory in game 7 with Darren Helm (who else?) scoring the game winning goal.

Fans calling into the station were also aware of the offensive machine that is known as the Pittsburgh Penguins.  They do fear Crosby & Malkin, but feel the Wings defenders, especially if Lidstrom is 100 percent, can handle all that is thrown their way.

On the other hand, most fans believe the Penguins defense will not be able to handle the constant pressure offense the Wings hope to apply during the series.  Of course, these are hometown fans talking and they may get a truer picture sometime during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. 

Whatever happens, I look forward to a great series, one that may become an instant classic immediately after the series is completed.  I see huge doses of offensive play, great up and down action and high scoring games.

I do believe people following this matchup will be entertained and wanting more of the same. The outcome? To be determined and even if I had a prediction, I would not make it publicly known. I don’t want any bad karma to get in the way of my team, unless of course it was met by good karma, wearing the winged-wheel!


Quote of the Day

When I first became captain here, Monsieur Beliveau came to me and said, 'You're going to be fine. You don't have to change, you got selected because of who you are.'

— Saku Koivu on Thursday, recalling what he was told by the late Jean Beliveau when he was named Canadiens captain in 1999
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