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For Penguins, long odds beat no odds

by Mike G. Morreale
PITTSBURGH -- The Detroit Red Wings have just one loss at Joe Louis Arena in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and they have outscored the Pittsburgh Penguins by nine goals in three victories there.

On top of that, you get the feeling Wings fans would pay an arm and a leg to have an opportunity to see their team pass Stanley around at the end of Friday's seventh and deciding game.

So what are the chances the Penguins defy the odds in a winner-take-all matchup? Can Pittsburgh, just one season removed from taking its lumps in a six-game setback to the Wings in the championship round, spoil the Motown mojo?

Is it their time?

"I'm not a very good odds maker, so I'm not going to give you any odds," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. "But, like I said before Game 6, that Feb. 15 we all would have signed up for whatever odds we've got going into Game 6 against Detroit. It's an opportunity we'll gladly take and we've given ourselves an opportunity to do it in Game 7."

The Penguins and the Red Wings will meet in the final game of the 2008-09 season Friday at 8 p.m. ET (NBC, CBC, RDS).

"Whatever the odds are, we're going to take them," Bylsma continued. "We're going in there determined to play our game. We've given ourselves a chance to do what only one other team has, and that's Detroit and us -- one match for the Cup."

Bylsma was a forward for the Anaheim Ducks during the 2002-03 season when his team dropped a 3-0 decision to the Devils in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in New Jersey. Perhaps he could use that experience to his advantage in the dressing room.

"The best thing I can tell them is to just go out and win the game and not try to lose," Bylsma said. "You try to go out there and play your game and play the way you've played all year long. You can't wait back for a mistake, so really, it's all about getting to your game and playing the way you've played to that point -- it's not easy though."

While Penguins captain Sidney Crosby realizes home ice has played a pivotal role in this series, he still believes all but one of the games have been tight throughout. That provides a glimmer of hope for a team that isn't so starry-eyed this season, but instead, battle-tested and determined.
The Red Wings will be hosting their first Game 7 of a Stanley Cup Final since 1955 when it scored a 2-1 overtime decision over the Montreal Canadiens.

It will be the 15th Game 7 in Stanley Cup Final history. All signs would point to a Wings victory as the home team has posted a 12-2 record in the previous 14 clinchers, including the last six by Edmonton (1987), the Rangers (1994), Colorado (2001), New Jersey (2003), Tampa Bay (2004) and Carolina (2006).

Penguins center Jordan Staal doesn't expect much advice from brother Eric, who experienced a Game 7 in the '06 Final as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes against the Edmonton Oilers, but he is well aware of the battle that lies ahead.

Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup Final Gear"Well, he's on the beach somewhere on vacation, so I haven't called him about a little advice," Jordan grinned. "I watched his Game 7 and, really, I think everyone in this room understands the stakes. We're just going to go out and play. We're going to play as hard as we can and we'll go from there."

Bylsma admitted Wednesday that he vividly recalls a picture of himself and Devils goalie Martin Brodeur in USA Today the day after Anaheim's loss to New Jersey in Game 7 back in '03. It was Bylsma's chance in a scoreless game to provide his team with a spark on a possible tip in front.

"That was my chance and that's going to happen in Game 7 for us," Bylsma said. "There's going to be a play, a blocked shot to score a goal. That's where we've put ourselves, one game, one-chance scenario -- the play is going to be on a lot of guys and there will be a picture the next morning."

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