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Franzen pleased with effort in return

by Staff

In his first game back after missing Detroit's last five contests with concussion-like symptoms, Johan Franzen snagged an assist and was a plus-2 in 16:21 of ice time for the Red Wings.
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It didn’t take Johan Franzen long to have an impact in his first Stanley Cup Final game.

Franzen missed Game 1 of the Final – as well as the last five games of the Western Conference Finals against Dallas – because of concussion-like symptoms. But he was cleared to play in Monday’s Game 2. And he became a focal point, as usual. He played a little more than 16 minutes, assisted on the final goal in Detroit’s 3-0 win, took two minor penalties, fired off two shots and registered three hits.

“It went better than expected. It’s good to be back in again. It was a lot of fun,” Franzen said. “I usually take a nap, but I couldn’t get any sleep, it was exciting. It’s my first Final. I was just thrilled to be in there playing.”

The Penguins, already down one game, weren’t happy to see the man who had 12 playoff goals in his first 11 postseason games return to the ice. In the third period, they appeared to make Franzen a target.

Gary Roberts punched Franzen with a gloved hand, but was not penalized. Ryan Whitney took a roughing penalty for taking a swipe at Franzen in a goal-mouth scramble. There were other instances, but the Roberts one was the most egregious – even if Roberts denied any malice.

“He actually tried to throw a shoulder at me,” Roberts said. “I think I was trying to back check and he threw a shoulder into me. And my shoulder hit him, maybe hit him in the side of the face. But there was no intent there.”

And, for his part, Franzen was going to let it rest right there, refusing to fan the flames that Pittsburgh tried to build with a rugged, penalty-filled third period.

“I gotta protect myself,” Franzen said. “He’s coming at me and I’ve got to get my hands up. I don’t blame him, but maybe there should be a penalty.”

-- Shawn Roarke

Beware – Detroit's domination of Pittsburgh in the first two games might have Red Wings fans dreaming of a sweep. But the Wings are also one of only three teams to blow a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final.

In 1966, the Wings actually came home with a 2-0 lead after winning the first two games against Montreal, only to drop the next four – including three games in Detroit.

Wings coach Mike Babcock also knows from firsthand experience that a 2-0 deficit can be overcome – even when your team has been blanked twice. Babcock coached the 2003 Anaheim Ducks, who were blanked 3-0 in each of the first two games against New Jersey and rallied to force a seventh game before losing 3-0.

That's why he was glad to take care of business at home, including Monday night's 3-0 win in Game 2.

"We were hoping to have back-to-back wins," Babcock said. "I think it’s real important you look after home ice."

-- John Kreiser

Crosby agrees with Therrien – Penguins coach Michel Therrien had some strong comments during his postgame press conference about what he perceives as obstruction from the Red Wings.

“They’re good on obstruction,” Therrien said. “It’s going to be tough to generate any type of offense if the rules remain the same.”

When asked for his opinion on the matter, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby quickly came to his coach’s corner, albeit in a non-confrontational way.

“Yeah, I think they do a good job of definitely clogging up the neutral zone and holding up,” Crosby said. “Sometimes they get sticks or they clutch a bit. As players, you have to battle through that sometimes and hope they get calls.”

As for Therrien saying Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood is “a good actor. He goes to players, and he’s diving,” Crosby agreed with that assessment as well.

“He’s trying to draw a penalty,” Crosby said. “I think everyone has to be held accountable. A ref is calling a penalty if it’s obvious. Why not call the same on a goaltender?”

Osgood drew two goalie interference penalties on the Penguins in Game 2.

-- Dan Rosen

Nothing malicious –Roberts knocked Franzen to the ice with a quick shot to the Mule’s head with about nine minutes remaining in the game. However, Roberts said there was no intent to injure on the play.

“I was just back checking. He kind of jumped back at me,” Roberts said. “I think my shoulder hit him in the side of the face. There is nothing there.”

Franzen sat out the last six games of the playoffs with concussion-like symptoms. He stayed down for a brief moment before peeling himself up off the ice. Franzen did not miss a shift.

-- Dan Rosen

Pittsburgh, Here We Come – Now that they have a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final, Henrik Zetterberg is eager to get to Pittsburgh, where there will certainly be a raucous atmosphere at Mellon Arena.

But this won’t be a vacation for the Red Wings. Detroit won the first two games of its opening-round series against the Nashville Predators before dropping Games 3 and 4. They also needed six games to dispose of the Dallas Stars despite taking the first three contests in the Western Conference Finals.

“It’s going to be exciting to go on the road,” Zetterberg said. “We’ve been up 2-0 before in these playoffs and came back at 2-2. So we know we have to go out and play solid road

games. We have to play at our best if we want to have some success out there.”

-- Brian Compton

Glad to be homeDarren McCarty is among the five Red Wings who played on the Cup-winning teams of 1997, 1998 and 2002. Since then, he's spent two years in Calgary and gone through some personal problems before signing with the Wings earlier this season and working his way back to the NHL in time for the playoffs.

He's two wins away from a fourth Cup.

"They're all special in their own way," he said. "But this one would be special, obviously, for different reasons. Just to be here and be a part of it, at this point, is something in itself."

McCarty spent 11 seasons with the Wings before signing with Calgary for the 2005-06 season. He's glad to be back.

"I loved Calgary. I thought it was a great place – great people, great organization," he said. "But being here, you always feel like a Red Wing. It's a phenomenal organization, starting with Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch and everyone that works here. It's family. I think that's something you miss sometimes, and when you come back, you really appreciate it."

-- John Kreiser

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