Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was quizzed Sunday morning about whether grizzled fourth-line right wing Kirk Maltby
"gets under the skin" of young Pens captain Sidney Crosby
. Babcock wasn't biting, but went marquee with the matchup instead.
"I don't think he's going to be deterred by anything like that," said Babcock at the media podium inside Joe Louis Arena. "To me, the battle going last night between (Henrik) Zetterberg and Crosby was a great battle. I thought he went head hunting right off the top. His ability to respond was good."
Babcock said fans can anticipate "a game within a game" from Zetterberg and Crosby.
"If you're a hockey purist and you like superstars who bring it, that's a nice matchup," said Babcock.
In fact, you can follow that matchup as part of your game viewing (hey, it's a two-screen world) by watching NBC's Iso-Cam right here on NHL.com. The camera will follow Zetterberg every shift on the ice, many of which will pair the player Babcock calls "Z" and Crosby on faceoffs and no doubt a hit or three.
The pair came together numerous times during Saturday's Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, most noticeably when Crosby delivered a massive hit to Zetterberg at center ice during the first period.
And what of Babcock's statement that Crosby was head hunting on his hit on Zetterberg?
"He can say whatever he wants," Crosby said. "I don't think I've been known as a head hunter throughout my career. He's the first one to ever say that, so it's pretty interesting stuff."
Crosby isn't exactly known for throwing his body around. He was credited with just 80 hits during the regular season, good for ninth on the Penguins. In the playoffs, Crosby knows being physical is part of the requirements to winning the Cup. Crosby recorded four hits in Game 1.
"That's just competing. It's the way it goes," Crosby said. "It's not anything that you try to do, but you have to play like that if you want to get pucks. It doesn't mean going out of your way to look for it, but you have to find ways to get the puck."
Zetterberg won the Conn Smythe Trophy last year as the MVP of the playoffs, tying for the lead in scoring with 27 points. But it was his ability to put the clamps on Crosby (who also had 27 points) in last year's Cup Final, helping to hold the Penguins' captain to just two goals in the six-game series.
"He was pretty close to me all night last night. That's something he's tried to do over the last couple years I played against him," Crosby said Sunday before Game 2. "He's always been close. He's a good skater, he's a tough guy to play against.
"It's a challenge for sure. Personally, I think I want to generate a little more, but that's a challenge of the playoffs. With him and with their 'D' they present a great challenge. There's no doubt there's a healthy competition."
For his part, Zetterberg said Crosby's check on him about seven minutes into Game 1 was "a good hit." Zetterberg downplayed any on-ice trash talking: "If we have a conversation, it tends to be pretty short," said Zetterberg.