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Game 4 Notebook: Hail Z!

by Lindsey Ungar / Detroit Red Wings
PITTSBURGH — The Penguins young captain was reluctant to give Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg any credit, but NBC broadcaster Mike Emrick, who was working Saturday’s Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals, called Zetterberg’s effort “a Conn Smythe shift.”

It might be premature to crown Zetterberg the MVP of the 2008 playoffs, but there’s no mistaking the importance of his shift during Pittsburgh’s 5-on-3 man-advantage that last 87-seconds midway through the third period.

“He made a good play on me; he got my stick,” Sidney Crosby said. “I don’t think he did anything out of the ordinary besides what any other guy would do on a 5-on-3.”

On the contrary, Zetterberg’s play down low on Crosby preserved the Red Wings’ 2-1 lead at the time. If Zetterberg doesn’t get back to check Crosby and tie up his stick, the Penguins’ superstar unquestionably slams home the tying goal.

It was a picturesque display of why Zetterberg is a finalist for this year's Selke Trophy as the league's best defensive forward.

Besides the play against Crosby, Zetterberg also blocked Sergei Goncher’s shot from the point, and stole a pass in the neutral zone before firing a backhand shot that glanced off Marc-Andre Fleury’s glove.

“That was the one thing we wanted to do a little better today,” Zetterberg said. “We want to have a little bit more poise in our own end. We want to make some good decisions down there. I think we did. They got opportunity to tie up the game with the five on three in the end there.”

Zetterberg lead the Red Wings’ scorers in the playoffs with 12 goals and 11 assists.

OFF-DAY FUN: Kris Draper can’t keep quiet about the mini-putt tournament that he and Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood won on Thursday when the Wings spent their off day at a luxury Pennsylvania resort.

But the tandem almost didn’t win.

The twosome of Dan Cleary-Kirk Maltby finished one shot behind the eventual winners on the 13th hole.

After that hole?

15 strokes behind.

“Who told you that?” Cleary blurted.

A reporter answered, “Draper.”

“He’s such a sneak; he always leaks my information,” Cleary said, shaking his head. “That’s true, I did. Can you believe that?”

He scored a whopping 14 on the hole. Evidently, there was no stroke limit. So what happened?

“Lands in the water. I had to re-tee it,” Cleary said. “Then it lands in the water again. It wasn’t an easy hole — it was tough.

“We got a really relaxed group. We’re confident. … It’s good to have days like that and get your mind away from hockey.”

OBSTRUCTION: On Friday, Penguins coach Michel Therrien went on a two-minute obstruction rant, completely unrelated to the reporter’s question about home-ice advantage for the young Pens.

Today, TSN reporter Ryan Rishaug asked Therrien the first question at his post-practice press conference: “Would you like to get the obstruction stuff out of the way first, before I ask my ... ”

Laughter erupted.

“I said what I had to say (Thursday), so let's move on,” Therrien responded.

More laughter.

While Cherry might be cold on Crosby, there's no denying his affection for the Wings and their tentacled friends.
CHERRY BOMBS: On Friday, a columnist from The Globe and Mail ripped on CBC commentator Don Cherry for not giving enough love to Canadian boy-wonder, Sidney Crosby.

Crosby was asked whether there is a feud between two of Canada’s most recognizable hockey figures.

“I don't really have a relationship with him, to be honest,” Crosby said. “I've never met him. I grew up watching hockey in Canada just like every kid. And I've heard negative things on there more than positive things, probably. But it hasn't changed me. I still watch it whenever I get the chance. And there's really nothing there. I've never met him, and I have nothing against him whatsoever.

“So I don't think there's really much to say.”

CHICAGO CLASSIC: Reports say the Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks could play in an outdoor game in Chicago next season. Detroit general manager Ken Holland denied the story earlier this week, and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said that nothing had been finalized last week in Detroit.

Last January, the Penguins defeated the Buffalo Sabres in the Winter Classic at Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium on New Year’s Day. Former Michigan State standout Adam Hall took part in both the Winter Classic and the Cold War against Michigan in Oct. 2001.

Players are excited for the possibility of a second Winter Classic.

“It's an unbelievable event,” Hall said. “I played in the game in college against the University of Michigan at Michigan State, Spartan Stadium there in East Lansing, and it was unbelievable. And then again this year, with the snow and everything … it was just picturesque.”

Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios, a Chicago native, wouldn’t mind playing at either Wrigley Stadium (home of the Chicago Cubs) or Soldier Field (home of the Chicago Bears).

“The last thing I heard, we were playing in New York,” Chelios said on Friday. “And then they squashed that one because we mentioned it so … I’ll just wait to hear until they announce it. But if it was to happen, I couldn’t think of a better setting.”

Just how many tickets would Chelios get hit up for?

“If I’m playing, I’ll make an announcement in the press that they can get their own tickets,” he said.

SYKORA SPEAKS: On Friday, reporters finally tracked Pens elusive forward Petr Sykora cutting through the players’ lounge in Mellon Arena.

Sykora played for Babcock’s Anaheim Ducks team that lost to the New Jersey Devils in seven games in the 2003 Cup finals.

The Ducks went down 2-0 before tying the series at home. So the parallels to this year’s final are obvious. Babcock has been forthcoming about the experience he gained then, but Sykora was not forthcoming.

“I don’t want to talk about the past,” he said. “I don’t want to talk about me losing.” writer Michael Caples and editor Bill Roose contributed to this report.

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