Just back from the morning skates. It didn't seem as crowded as in previous days, don't know if that just means reporters are running out of questions or players are running out of answers or both.
Spent some time with Detroit assistant general manager Jim Nill; I covered him 30 years ago when he played for the University of Calgary Dinosaurs and then the next year, with Canada's 1980 Olympic team. Nill generally runs the draft for the Wings. As much as anyone on that staff of theirs, he is responsible for the late-round gems that the Red Wings come up with every year that keep the team competitive, when others succumb to the ebb and flow of professional sport.
Nill thought the Red Wings wouldn't change much in the next three seasons; they have most of their core players signed and for the only one that isn't, centre Henrik Zetterberg, they can't begin negotiations officially until July 1. Zetterberg has one year left after this, before he can become an unrestricted free agent, but it didn't sound as if the Red Wings were too worried that he might bolt for another team.
At the press conference, Michel Therrien, the Penguins' coach, was asked about Mike Babcock's comments from the previous day, in which Babcock prefaced his complaints about goalie interference by suggesting he was about step up on his soapbox, just like the "other guy."
Therrien today, went along with the gag: "This morning, I'm trying to walk around, introduce myself; I'm the other guy I guess," said Therrien, with a smile. But Therrien went on to make a distinction - he said his complaints differed from Babcock's on one level because the one team, the Red Wings, are complaining about calls and the Penguins are complaining about non-calls (obstruction). Therrien: "So that's two different things, and we were told at the beginning of the series, that they're going to protect the goalie. Obviously, he didn't have any complaint when [Chris]Osgood got bumped and fell down."
Therrien thought it was Ryan Malone; the one I remembered was called on Petr Sykora late in a game that the Penguins were losing decisively anyway; and how upset Sykora was to get a goalie interference call on minimal contact.
It doesn't look as if there are any line-up changes tonight; Malone and Sergei Gonchar (back spasms) presumably are ready to go. Nothing's changing for the Wings either. In fact, to a question about motivation, Babcock gave a good answer - that motivating his players is the last thing he needs to do right now. He suggested it was just the opposite - you have to keep them under control.
"It's not like you gotta jack them up to play here. They know what's on the line. They understand. It's about being under control and doing what you do."