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Quick Hits: Pens Unconcerned with Datsyuk

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
Detroit Hart Trophy finalist Pavel Datsyuk will make his 2009 Stanley Cup Final debut in Game 5 Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena. Datsyuk missed the team’s previous seven games after taking a shot off of his foot in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.

“He’ll play,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told

Datsyuk’s status has been speculated throughout the Final, but the Penguins aren’t concerned about his return.

“We haven't really thought about it too much,” defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “We've heard all the chatter about him coming back. It doesn't change anything for us to be honest. Even if he does come back, we all have a lot of respect for the player he is but that being said, I don't know how effective he's going to be if he comes back and he's playing at whatever level he's playing at.”

All players fight through bumps and bruises at this time of year. But just because Datsyuk will be back in the lineup, doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll play at his MVP-caliber level. But Datsyuk is still a dynamic players, even if he's not playing at 100-percent health.

“I don't know what kind of capacity he is or what he expects of himself and how much he's going to play,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “But you're talking about inserting a pretty good hockey player at both ends of the rink, so it's going to add a lot to their team if he can get in there and be effective the way we've seen him be effective in the past.”

Another question surrounding Datsyuk’s return is the impact he’ll have on the game. Henrik Zetterberg was matched up against Sidney Crosby regularly through the first four games and logged a lot of ice time. But with Datsyuk’s defensive abilities, he’s a former Selke Award winner, he could alleviate some of Zetterberg’s ice time against Crosby, or he could be paired against Evgeni Malkin.

“Zetterberg has been going after Crosby for the better part of four games,” Bylsma said. “Getting back home, looked to see if that was a matchup they wanted again or if they spread those duties out. But with both those guys, maybe they put one guy on Crosby and one guy on Malkin.”

Still Pittsburgh isn’t worrying much about Datsyuk’s return. Instead they it concentrating its efforts on its own play.

“Like I said, we're not too concerned about that,” Orpik said. “I think throughout the playoffs we've just been more concerned with the way we're playing. And if he does come back, it doesn't really change much for us, really.”

Win at Joe
The Penguins entered the Stanley Cup Final against Detroit as the underdog. The Red Wings had home-ice advantage, meaning four of the seven games would be played at Joe Louis Arena. Since it would take four victories to take the Stanley Cup, the Penguins know they’ll have to win at least one game in Detroit.

“We knew going into the series we had to win at least one game here, so that's the position we've put ourselves in,” Orpik said. “We're still pretty confident we can do that."

The Penguins appear to have stolen the momentum in the Stanley Cup Final after winning the last two games. However, most of the Penguins know that momentum is only as good as the next shift.

“Momentum is a funny thing, I think,” defenseman Hal Gill said. “During a game it changes a lot. Right now I think we do have the momentum. We went home and now we're coming back (to Detroit) and we're going to have to pick it up again. It's not something that you just keep. You have to work for it, especially in a series like this against a good team. You have to work every shift to try to keep that momentum. And it can change pretty quick if you're not on top of it.”

Awarded Goal
Forward Chris Kunitz had an opportunity to bury an empty-net goal in the Penguins’ 4-2 Game 4 victory. He carried the puck towards the goal but was obstructed from scoring by Niklas Kronwall, who took a hooking penalty to prevent the score.

In such an instance, the officials could have awarded Kunitz a goal on the play but opted to call the penalty on Kronwall. Kunitz was asked if he wished that he was credited with the goal.

“I didn’t really think about it at the time,” Kunitz said. “I wanted to make sure I got it on net. It was nice that we were up by more than one goal, that’s for sure.”

Scenery Change
The Penguins decided on a change of scenery in Detroit. The team is staying at a different hotel Friday and Saturday than it previously stayed during Games 1 and 2.

Some reporters asked if the change was due to the fact that Pittsburgh lost those first two contests.

“That could be a reason,” Bylsma smirked and then clarified. “We're not that superstitious.”


The Penguins held an optional practice at Mellon Arena Friday afternoon. The only players to participate that played in Pittsburgh’s 4-2 victory in Game 4 the previous evening were forwards Craig Adams and Pascal Dupuis and defenseman Hal Gill.

The other players who took part were forwards Eric Godard, Dustin Jeffrey, Chris Minard, Petr Sykora, Jeff Taffe and Mike Zigomanis, defensemen Philippe Boucher, Alex Goligoski and Ben Lovejoy and goaltenders Mathieu Garon and John Curry.
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