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Roberts returning to Penguins lineup

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

Gary Roberts skated on the Penguins' revamped fourth line during Sunday's practice, and both he and coach Michel Therrien confirmed afterwards that he would be playing in Game 2 in place of Georges Laraque.  WATCH Gary Roberts in action

DETROIT – Gary Roberts waited 19 years to get back to the Stanley Cup Final, and once he did he had to wait another game to play in it. But it appears now that Roberts will make his first Cup Final appearance since 1989 on Monday night (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS, NHL Radio).

Roberts skated on the Penguins' revamped fourth line during Sunday's practice, and both he and coach Michel Therrien confirmed afterwards that he would be playing in Game 2 in place of Georges Laraque.

"You wait 19 years to play in the Stanley Cup Final and you want to be part of it," Roberts said. "We have a lot of guys that have stepped in and played well this year. Certain circumstances have kept me out of the lineup, but I'm excited to be back in and I'll do what I can to help the team win."

Roberts hasn't played since Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final. He sat out the final three games of that series because he was fighting a mild case of pneumonia, the latest setback for the 42-year-old veteran forward.

Roberts, who also missed games with a broken leg, a high ankle sprain and a groin problem this season, was healthy at the start of this series, but Therrien didn't want to change a winning lineup so he kept Roberts up in the press box. The Penguins, though, lost 4-0 Saturday night. so Therrien felt it was time to get Roberts back in the lineup.

He is expected to skate with Adam Hall and Jarkko Ruutu.

"It's not like we didn't want Gary Roberts out of our lineup, but those guys did a fantastic job and it's about rewarding players," Therrien said. "When we told Gary he's not playing he had to make sure he had the right attitude and make sure he was ready to play, with the confidence he'd be back in the lineup. Tomorrow he'll be back in the lineup, but obviously when you take somebody who is not playing and bring him into the lineup someone has to come out. We evaluated our options and we decided it was going to be Georges."

-- Dan Rosen

A Tale Of Two Games -- For a while, it looked as if Chris Osgood was going to be a busy man in Game 1.

The Detroit Red Wings' netminder was forced to make 12 saves in the opening period, mainly due to the fact that his team had to kill off four penalties in the first 20 minutes of action. Over the final 40 minutes, though, the veteran goalie faced only seven more shots en route to his second shutout of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We stayed out of the penalty box, for starters," Osgood said. "We were in there way too much in the first period. After that, I thought we didn't turn pucks over as much as we did in the first. That's why we got the penalties. We got pucks deep when we grinded their 'D.' Sometimes, things don't happen right away. You don't reap the rewards until later. That's what happened."

That being said, Osgood realizes this series is far from over.

"They're everything we expected," he said of the Pens. "I mean, they made some beautiful plays, some nice plays, coming out not only in front of me, but coming out of their zone. So we've got to be on top of our game. We had to play very, very well in the last two periods and give it everything we've got tonight just to win that game."

-- Brian Compton

Good sport -- Marc-Andre Fleury heard the taunts from his hysterical teammates Saturday night because the clip of him falling over the last step as he ran out of the entrance way to the ice before Game 1 was all replayed over and over again on various highlight shows.

Fleury, though, took some strides Sunday to make sure that won't happen again as he was actually seen practicing coming onto the ice through that same tunnel at the end of the Penguins short workout at Joe Louis Arena.

"Yeah, a couple times you know, just practice running through the door," Fleury said. "Just one leg at a time. Everything went well. I should be ready for tomorrow."

Fleury said if the Penguins had won Game 1, he may have had to fall onto the ice again for Game 2. After all, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is quite superstitious, and he could have ordered Fleury to do such a thing.

"Maybe if we would have won I would dive every game, but now I have to switch it up," Fleury said.

Added Crosby: "If anyone can do it and have a smile on his face, it's him. We all got a good laugh about that one after the game."

-- Dan Rosen

Chelios feeling fine -- Chris Chelios, who was scratched in Game 1, said he's "healthy and ready to go" for Game 2, but doesn't expect to be reinserted into the lineup and he seems just fine with that.

"It makes it a whole lot easier when you win," Chelios said Sunday. "We're going with a winning lineup and you can't question that. If they can keep me out of the lineup for three more games I'm fine with that."

-- Dan Rosen

Experience? You bet -- A lot has been made of Detroit's experience vs. Pittsburgh's youth being part of the equation that will help the Red Wings beat the Penguins in this Stanley Cup Final.

Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said that a good dose of experience helped Detroit to overcome four penalties in the first period of Game 1.

"I think we prepared very hard for them, knowing how skilled they are and knowing how we had to force them out of the shooting areas as much as possible," Lidstrom said. "They are fast and skilled, but we were ready for them and (Chris Osgood) Ozzie made some good saves to keep us in there early."

That impeccable defense included holding the Penguins' high-powered offense to 19 shots in the game, including just seven over the last two periods.

-- Larry Wigge

Head on head -- Skill vs. skill is a delightful idea isn't it? But it has worked for Detroit coach Mike Babcock. And why not, when the coach has Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on his No. 1 scoring and checking unit.

"We'll play skill on skill," Babcock said. "We believe it's harder for skilled players to have to defend and play offense at the same time."

While Sidney Crosby's line with Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis had eight of Pittsburgh's 19 shots in Game 1, the Datsyuk-Zetterberg matchup against Crosby clearly worked as planned.

"It'll be a great challenge to try to shut them down and at the same time try to create some offense," Zetterberg said after he scored once and helped hold Crosby's line scoreless. "It's always fun to play against good players, especially on this stage."

-- Larry Wigge

Lidstrom looks back -- Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom has three Stanley Cup rings, five Norris Trophys and a hatful of accomplishments since coming to the NHL with the Red Wings in 1991. It's a lot more than he ever thought he would accomplish.

"I didn't really know what to expect," the 37-year-old defenseman said. "First I had to make the team. I figured I would play a few years here and go back and play in the Swedish Elite League again. I never envisioned myself playing over here for such a long time."

Lidstrom is likely to win his sixth Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman when the League passes out its awards next month, breaking a tie with Ray Bourque for third all-time. Only Bobby Orr (eight) and Doug Harvey (seven) have more.

"He's the best, in my opinion, since I've been around," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "He's a special man who has great talent. He'll win the Norris Trophy, and that will be five or six. That speaks for itself."

-- John Kreiser

 

Author: NHL.com Staff

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