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Notebook: Heading west ... again

by Michael Caples / Detroit Red Wings
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ROMULUS, Mich. – Todd Bertuzzi said that Wednesday morning was a rare example of his teammates being excited to do something most people dread.

“Well it’s the first time I’ve seen guys that excited to get on a plane for seven hours,” Bertuzzi said upon arriving at Detroit Metro Airport. “We’re looking forward to it. We want to get out there, get ourselves readied and focused, and play exactly the way we’ve been playing in order to get past the last three ones.”

With a 3-1 victory in Game 6, the Wings will now travel to San Jose for a winner-take-all Game 7 at HP Pavilion Thursday night. It will be Detroit’s fourth Game 7 in three years. Yet according to Pavel Datsyuk, this time the Wings have a different feeling approaching the do-or-die event.

“Maybe more confident,” Datsyuk said. “It’s going to be a hard game and a tough game. But for sure, it’s more confidence for us with it 3-3 now.”

The Wings will be counting on the veteran leadership that has helped them win two of the previous three Game 7s. When he was asked about the perception that his team is very calm right now, captain Nicklas Lidstrom said his team hasn’t done anything yet.

“We also know we haven’t done anything yet,” Lidstrom said. “We haven’t won a series yet. I think our mindset is more of going out there to win a game, and not feeling that we’ve accomplished a whole lot. We haven’t. We haven’t won a series yet.”

Bertuzzi said that members of the Wings’ locker room like knowing that there is plenty of experience to be passed around.

“I think what we take to comfort is that a lot of guys have played in that situation and scenario,” Bertuzzi said. “It’s a pretty comfortable room to be in, and this is what we want. We wanted to push it to Game 7, and I like where our heads are at.”

Coach Mike Babcock said that there is one thing more important than leadership in this situation.

“I think veteran leadership is a great thing, but determination is a better thing,” Babcock said. “Poise and understanding what you have to do, the key this time of year is just to do your part, and if you do your part, we have an opportunity to be great together.”

FRANZEN UPDATE: Babcock said he will use the time on the flight to San Jose to evaluate the status of forward Johan Franzen, who did not dress for Game 6.

“That’s the good thing about this flight,” Babcock said. “It’ll be about five and a half hours, and we’ll kick everything around. I’m sure if he’s lobbying, we’ll listen to that. We’ll see what’s available. We’ll try to make the right decisions. The only way you know if you made the right decision is if you win. We’ll try to make the right decisions, have the right players in, to give us the best chance to win.”

While most of the players took the same wait-and-see approach as Babcock, Niklas Kronwall expects to see ‘The Mule’ back in the line-up.

“I think so, definitely,” Kronwall said.

When Bertuzzi was asked about the injury status of another player, he said he didn’t even know what the travel plans were.

“I thought we were leaving yesterday, so it shows how much I know what’s going on around here,” Bertuzzi joked.

Babcock said that he decided to have the team leave Wednesday morning instead of Tuesday night because of the 8 p.m. start time, and their experience flying to San Jose for Game 5.

“Last time what happened, it was a 7:00 game (in Detroit) … I was in my hotel at 2:10 a.m. I just thought to get in at 3:10 or 3:30 just wasn’t a good thing for our body clocks. Last time, we had been at home for a long time, and this time we hadn’t been. You’re going back and forth, back and forth, I don’t think you can make up for a night’s sleep. So we’ll see if we have made the right decision.”

Playing goaltender in a Game 7 of the NHL playoffs would be a daunting task for most people. Whether he was being truthful or not, Jimmy Howard doesn’t seem too concerned.

“You just go out there and play,” Howard said when asked if he would be nervous. “Give your best effort, and see what happens.”
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