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Franzen back for Game 2

by Staff /

Johan Franzen, "The Mule," was given medical clearance and will play tonight in Game 2.
Check out some Franzen highlights
DETROITJohan Franzen skated again with his team Monday morning, and was medically cleared to be in the lineup tonight when the Detroit Red Wings host the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS, NHL Radio).

Despite the fact that he hasn’t played since Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Dallas Stars, Franzen is tied for the team lead in goals (12) with Henrik Zetterberg. He recorded two hat tricks in Detroit’s four-game sweep of the Colorado Avalanche in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Franzen did not speak with reporters on Monday.

-- Brian Compton

Shall we dance? -- Early in the first period of Game 1, it appeared that we might have our first fight of the Stanley Cup Final when Detroit’s Darren McCarty steamed into Pittsburgh’s Georges Laraque after the Penguin tough guy bumped Detroit forward Kirk Maltby after the whistle.

The two exchanged words and gloves dangled, but never fell to the ice.

“He was trying to spark his team and I got certain things that I have been told to do,” McCarty said. “It’s just guys going out and trying to do what are the roles for their teams. It’s just the way the game goes. It’s intensity. It’s an emotional game and those things go on. It’s nothing we’re not used to.”

But in the end, cooler heads prevailed.

“No one wants to take an extra penalty,” McCarty explained. “It wasn’t in our best interest at the time. The team comes first.

Had they decided to go, things could have gotten interesting. The two heavyweights have had a few run-ins in the past withy Laraque owning a slight upper hand, according to McCarty.

“He threw me around a little bit in Calgary one time,” McCarty said, laughing. “I’d give him the nod; but I’m still breathing and that’s all that matters.”

-- Shawn P. Roarke

A reunion of a distant kind -- In the way Game 1 played out with Mikael Samuelsson scoring two goals in Detroit's 4-0 victory over Pittsburgh against Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, it was more than interesting that in a round-about way Samuelsson and Fleury's paths had crossed once before.

It happened on June 21, 2003, when the Penguins traded Samuelsson and their first-round pick (third overall) and second-rounder to Florida for the first pick overall and a third-rounder.

Penguins goaltending coach Gilles Meloche was heavily involved the background scouting that convinced then-Pittsburgh GM Craig Patrick to make the trade that ironically pitted one vs. the other in a situation where Samuelsson beat Fleury.

But the Pens don't regret the deal for a moment according to Meloche.

"Good for him ... and good for us," Meloche said quickly. "It was important for us back then to get a goalie -- and not too many goalies like Marc-Andre come along. We were looking to build a championship team from goal on out and we're thrilled at how we did in that deal. To me, Mikael always had great speed and talent. But we felt he would be nothing more in our plans than a role player. So he was expendable."

Meloche is right ... good for Samuelsson and good for the Pens.

-- Larry Wigge

Punch lines -- Jordan Staal didn't react with surprise when he heard that Penguins Coach Michel Therrien was planning to change his lines for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.

"Mike likes to change up the lines a lot, so that he can get the matchups he likes," Staal said. "We knew that they were a great team, but we might have been guilty of giving them a little too much respect."

When you look at Pittsburgh's center strength that starts with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and also includes Staal and Maxime Talbot, that strength should give Therrien options of moving a Talbot onto the wing like he plans for Game 2.

-- Larry Wigge

Layers and levels -- Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Hal Gill has a different vantage point than most, given that he's 6-foot-7, 250 pounds. But he's also right in the middle of the battles with the likes of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Co. in the Stanley Cup Final.

After losing 4-0 in Game 1 of the Final, Gill had no problem giving the Red Wings praise and saying there's something better to come for his Penguins, "They played at a higher level than we did, plain and simple. I don't know if that was their experience vs. our youth or not, however.

"They won the battles. They were more aggressive with the puck and on us when we had the puck. We got on our heels. The good thing is we can fix this -- and we know we are better than we were in Game 1."

-- Larry Wigge

The Cup comes first -- Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom has more individual awards than all but a handful of players in NHL history. But he says team accomplishments come first.

"Winning the Stanley Cup," was his answer when asked about his biggest NHL achievement. "Once you've won one, you want to get that feeling back. You know how good it feels at the end of a long year, and you want to get it back."

Lidstrom owns three Stanley Cup rings with the Wings and is three wins away from a fourth – one that would make him the first European to captain a Cup winner.

 -- John Kreiser

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