“Samuelsson didn't take the morning skate, so we'll see what happens there,” Babcock said. “Don't know if he'll (Draper) play tonight. It will be based on Samuelsson.”
The Wings medical staff cleared Draper to play prior to Game 2, but Babcock did not want to interfere with a winning combination and decided to keep Draper out of the lineup. Samuelsson’s potential absence will affect Detroit’s power play as he plays with the second power-play unit on the point alongside defenseman Niklas Kronwall
Importance of Game 3: With the series set at a 2-0 Detroit advantage over the Penguins, Game 3 can set the tone for the remainder of the series. A Detroit win tonight would put Pittsburgh’s back against the wall while a Penguins’ victory gets them right back into the series.
“The great thing about a seven-game series, it's either a testament of the best team wins quickly, or if you can draw it out, it's a battle of will, and endurance and determination and right now that's what we need to turn it into,” Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. “They have two wins, and we need to get back in this series with a win here tonight. If not, we face the prospect of being down 0-3."
Babcock views tonight’s game as a great opportunity for both teams so he’s focusing on his team performing at their best level right out of the gate this evening.
“Our key here today is getting started on time,” Babcock said. “Executing early, making some plays. And just understanding that there's going to be some energy from the crowd, but it's just like in our building, it's for two teams.”
Both teams are trying to simply focus on tonight’s contest rather than getting too far ahead of themselves and looking overall at the series.
“All we’re thinking about is how we’re going to get this one and we’re not really focused on the whole series,” Pittsburgh forward Jordan Staal said. “We feel really confident in the way we’re playing and I think if we keep doing the things we did in the first two, especially the second game, we’ll be fine.”
Earlier this week, Penguins forward Maxime Talbot told a French radio station that he was looking forward to winning the series, shaking Marian Hossa’s hand following the last game, and telling him, “You chose the wrong team.”
Pittsburgh traded for Hossa by the 2008 trade deadline and he led the Penguins in scoring during their postseason run to the Stanley Cup finals. He signed a one-year deal with Detroit during the off-season, leaving a bitter taste in the mouth of his former teammates.
“That would be a good feeling, but I think now we’re focusing on we’re down by two, we’re going to win tonight and that’s our only focus here,” Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said.
Hossa expects plenty of booing from the Pittsburgh crowd tonight, but plans to internalize it and use it to propel him throughout the game.
“I think it was pretty loud and it can get even louder, but many people don’t know a boo in Slovak means ‘Go, Marian, Go,’” he said. “I try to use it to my advantage as motivation. It’s going to try to get me going and every time I get the puck I know I try to explode. I just like to focus on my game and that’s it.”West Michigan Boys:
Both Bylsma and Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader
knew of each other well before their respective teams met up in the Stanley Cup finals.
“I never had a billboard in west Michigan, Justin did,” Bylsma said. “I don't know if he still does. So I was fully aware of this kid from Michigan growing up. Even when he was young. Then where he went from there and then on to Michigan State. And heard talk about where he was going to rank as a pro. Was fully aware of him. Never got a chance to meet him until this year in Grand Rapids where I met his family.”
The Muskegon native scored two early third period insurance goals in the first two games of this series in just under 14 minutes of ice time. Abdelkader knew of Bylsma growing up because he was the first guy from the Muskegon area to make it to the NHL.
“I didn’t know him personally, but obviously knew of him,” Abdelkader said. “He had his jersey retired in the same youth hockey organization I grew up playing in. Obviously when you’re from a small city like that you see a guy make it, he’s inspiration for a lot of hockey players.”