Despite being stopped about a half-minute away from hoisting the Stanley Cup at Joe Louis Arena Monday night, the Detroit Red Wings
appeared calm and composed.
Just 24 hours before they’ll try for the championship once again, some of the team’s more experienced players harped on the fact that the Red Wings must move on following the 4-3 triple overtime loss in Game 5. Tuesday was a new day, and they do have another crack to end this series as they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins
in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final at Mellon Arena.
Still, it will certainly be a challenge for the Red Wings to bounce back this quickly and in this environment after such a devastating defeat. With a minute to go in regulation on Monday night, some players may have started to think about how they were going to celebrate on Tuesday.
Instead, they were on a plane for Pittsburgh to play Game 6.
Sports can be cruel sometimes.
“I think the disappointment phase ends about 15 minutes when you're out of the room,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “For me, it was when I got home and talked to my wife for a second. She was disappointed, too. Like I said, when you get up in the morning, the sun gets up, and so do we. We're up 3-2. Let's play.”
Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom
was somewhat pleased with the team’s spirits as it left Motown for the Steel City.
“I think the mood of the team was fairly good today coming over here on the flight,” said Lidstrom, who played more than 45 minutes Monday night. “Guys know that we have to be prepared. I think everybody didn't get a whole lot of sleep last night. It was a late game, and we were up fairly early, too. It will be a good day today to rest, get a good night's sleep and be ready to go tomorrow again.
“But I think with the experience that we have we can put a game like that behind us and just be focused on the next one.”
And so, the road to recovery is under way. Babcock will spend the next 24 hours reminding his club that the season didn’t end on Monday night. After all, Detroit is still ahead in this series, while the Penguins will once again be a desperate club in Game 6 with their season on the line.
As for the grueling marathon the Red Wings were forced to endure in Game 5, Babcock quickly reminded the herd of media on Tuesday that they were not alone.
“We've both been through the same thing,” Babcock said. “There's no sense worrying about that part. To me, it's not a physical thing anyway. It's a mental thing. When we got up this morning, as tough as it was at times last night, we are up 3-2 in the Stanley Cup. Let's get ready.”
One positive statistic for the Wings heading into Game 6 is the fact that they are the only club this postseason -- other than the Pens, of course -- to win at Mellon Arena. Detroit handed Pittsburgh its first home loss of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Game 4 in a 2-1 victory.
Combine that with the fact that the Wings closed out the first three rounds on the road, and there’s really no reason for Detroit to feel it can’t close the deal on Wednesday night.
“We're a confident team,” veteran forward Kris Draper
said. “We’re a confident group. We feel that we can come into another team’s building and be successful.
“Obviously, when we closed opponents out, it's been in another team's building. I think that's a great, great characteristic to have. So, here we go again. We would have loved to have been able to wrap things up, but that wasn't the case. We’ve got another crack at it. We're still up 3-2 in the series, and we have another opportunity to close Pittsburgh out.”
Naturally, the most imposing challenge will be to quickly overcome Monday’s loss. The champagne was on ice, the Stanley Cup was in the building and the party was set to begin. But Maxime Talbot
scored with 34.3 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game before Petr Sykora
scored a power-play goal in triple overtime to force a Game 6.
Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood
insisted that devastation did not set in to the team’s dressing room. Perhaps the abundance of experience wouldn’t allow that to happen?
“We were all right after the game,” Osgood said. “We played hard. It was another great game. We just fell on the wrong end. That’s the way we looked at it. It was an end-to-end game. We had plenty of chances. It just didn’t happen. Sometimes, it’s a game of bounces.
“We have another opportunity tomorrow night, and that's what we're looking forward to.”
Contact Brian Compton at: email@example.com.