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It's A Great Day for Hockey - May 30

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
It's a Great Day for Playoff Hockey will be tracking the Penguins' Stanley Cup quest with constant updates throughout the postseason.

5:39 PM:
The Penguins were greeted by enthusiastic and excited fans at the hotel as the team boarded the bus destined for Joe Louis Arena. The bus just arrived at the rink and we are a little over two hours removed from the start of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final.

1:50 PM:
Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma was mum on his lineup for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup. The team has dressed seven defensemen and 11 forwards for the past seven postseason contests.

"It had success last series for us, and we had reasons why we went to seven (blueliners)," Bylsma said. "Certainly contemplated it the last two days, and we'll go with a game-time decision on what we go with."

Much has been talked about with Games 1 and 2 on back-to-back nights Saturday and Sunday. But as far preperation, Bylsma said the Penguins aren't focusing on the second game.

"This is the game we get to play right here tonight," he said. "Certainly if you go through different scenarios in your head prior to the start of the game, but once the game starts it's going to be all about tonight and getting to our game and making sure we do that.  The decisions we make will be how do we do that and how do we get to our game.

"We'll focus on tomorrow night's game after tonight's. And we've got a few days to think about different scenarios with the amount of games we're going to be playing here. But right now the task at hand is establishing our game and getting to our game in Game 1, and establishing that right from the start."


1:37 PM:
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury took a puck off of the outside of his glove hand at the Penguins' morning skate. He shook his hand and momentarily left the net. He returned to the crease and appeared to be OK.

"It's OK. It went away," he said. "When you're a goalie stuff like that happens. You have pucks on you. Nothing bad happened."

11:22 AM:
Detroit head coach Mike Babcock confirmed that defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom and Jonathan Ericsson will play in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final tonight. He also confirmed that forwards Kris Draper and Pavel Datsyuk will not play in the Cup opening contest.

"Lidstrom and Ericsson will play," Babcock said. "Draper's unavailable. Datsyuk's unavailable."

Babcock elaborated a little on Datsyuk's condition.

"We've tried a number of things and it hasn't responded the way we first anticipated. Our medical people are trying everything they can and he's trying everything he can. He'll be back as soon as he can. That's all I can tell you."

11:10 AM:
It looked as if the Red Wings had their full compliment of players at their morning skate. Recently sidelined stars Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk were both on the ice and participated in the drills. I did not, however, notice defenseman Jonathan Ericsson. It is possible that I just did not see him. Ericsson missed Game 5 of the Western Conference final after surgery.

Although head coach Mike Babcock was positive yesterday that Ericsson will be in the lineup for the Wings in tonight's Game 1 showdown:
"Ericsson's playing for sure...He'll be ready to go (tonight)."

10:25 AM:
The bus arrives at the famous Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. The Red Wings are trickling onto the ice as I write this. The burning questions this afternoon regard the playing status of Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk.

Lidstrom missed the last two games with a lower-body injury, while Datsyuk has been sidelined for the past three contests with a foot injury. We’ll keep an eye on if either player participates in their team’s morning skate and hope to get an update from Detroit head coach Mike Babcock at his afternoon press conference.

Lidstrom has been on the ice the last two days and practiced yesterday. He said that he'll be ready to play in Game 1 tonight at his media availablility yesterday:
"Yeah, I'll be ready to go (tonight). I skated a little bit (Thursday), practiced (Friday) and felt fine. So I'll be ready to go."

Datsyuk's status isn't as clear. Babcock yesterday said:
"I think everybody is ready to go. Pavel's going to be the only last-minute decision. Everyone else will be ready."

Author: Sam Kasan

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