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Behind the scenes at the Stanley Cup Finals

by Mike G. Morreale / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT -- The scene outside Joe Louis Arena is hopping right now. Fans are flocking to Hockeytown's Riverwalk Party taking place right along the Detroit River.

Welcome to Hockeytown
I tell you what, there are quite a few Penguins waddling around as well, but the sea of red certainly dominated the landscape. All fans attending the fifth game of the Stanley Cup Final received a rally towel upon entry.

Upon entering the Riverwalk Party, which is located directly across the street from the main entrance of The Joe, there is a huge tent for fans to shoot the breeze. There's plenty of food available and a lot to drink -- a lot! The food smelled absolutely divine. Sausages, dogs, burgers, chicken -- everything and anything worthy of being barbecued…was barbecued.

Derek Gluth of Highland Township, Mich., gripped a beverage of choice and was all smiles when I approached and asked for a picture. Derek wore the fashionable octopi hat and predicted, as expected, a big win for the Wings on Saturday night.

"I think the return of Pavel Datsyuk will be the difference," Gluth said. "We miss Pav and I know he'll
Derek Gluth enjoys festivities
get a big ovation when he steps on the ice."

There was also Red Wings memorabilia for sale underneath the WOMC tent. Another vendor had cigars for sale as well as t-shirts and hats. It was here I came across Brighton, Mich., residents Dana Gottlieb, Tresa O'Rourke and Debbie Porlick. They each had octopi painted on their cheeks and Dana wore a Wing-Nut hat -- she looked marvelous!

"I predict a final score of 5-2 Detroit," Gottlieb told me. "We believe this team is going to bounce back in a big way tonight. Just when you think they might be vulnerable, BAM, that's when they bounce back."

There were also several Pens fans milling about, including James McRae and Alex Smith. The Ontario natives didn't have to travel too far.

"We haven't seen an overtime game yet and I think everyone is waiting for one," Smith said. "Either way, I think it's going to be a very close game -- probably decided by one goal."

McRae agreed.

"Yeah, but this is the Penguins year," he said.

There were other interactive activities for the fans, including an accuracy shooting game where participants shot a ball at a goal cage that had just four openings -- each corner. It didn't matter whether or not you scored one as each player received a t-shirt anyway.

Faces in the crowd: Fans looking for the hot spots around The Joe can begin by heading over to Section 105 on the concourse where Hockey Hall of Famer Ted Lindsay will be signing copies of his book, '7'. Through photographs and words, "Seven: A Salute to Ted Lindsay" captures what Lindsay has meant to a storied franchise, teammates, the NHLPA, a legion of loyal fans and the entire hockey world.

In addition to Lindsay's book signing, there will be a few other notables sitting inside The Joe this evening:

  • Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola will be catching tonight's Game 5 from Section 110, Row 14, Seats 1-4.
  • Television and film star Mike Starr will be in attendance. Starr has appeared in the films, Summer of Sam (1999), Dumb & Dumber (1994) and Goodfellas (1990). He's sitting in Section 128, Row 2, Seats 13-14.
  • The Wings will also welcome representatives from the American Legion Post 216 out of Milford, Mich., to present our Nation's colors prior to Game 5 in honor of the 65th anniversary of the Allied Forces Invasion of Normandy, France. The presentation of colors will be followed by a tribute to Budd Lynch who, as part of the Canadian Army's Essex Scottish Battalion, stormed the beach at Normandy 65 years ago today.

If you're looking for something to during intermission, check out these fan favorites inside The Joe.

  • Red Wings NAPA Pit Crew - Throughout every home game, Red Wings staff will be providing T-shirts and merchandise to fans.
  • Pizza Toss - In the first period, 100 fans throughout the arena will receive a Little Caesars Super Slice during the Little Caesars Pizza Toss.
  • Coke Red Zone - Fans in one lucky section will receive a red "The Beard Is Back'' T-shirt sponsored by Coke. The giveaway takes place during the first period.
  • DMC Defensive Zone - In the second period and in the end of the arena that the Wings will defend, the lucky fans sitting in one section will receive DMC scrubs courtesy of the Detroit Medical Center.
  • Face painting - Face painting will be set up on the concourse level near Section 124 and on the suite level across from Suite 43. Sound like a good opportunity to have that octopi inked on your cheek!

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