DETROIT (AP) -The two ageless players in this year's Stanley Cup finals had the night off. One took the benching in stride, the other was miffed.
One day after his 42nd birthday, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Gary Roberts skated with his teammates Saturday morning and spent quite a long time on the ice. He learned Friday that coach Michel Therrien planned to sit him for the series opener and fought to keep his displeasure in check.
Detroit counterpart Chris Chelios, the NHL's oldest player at 46, also put in some quality skating Saturday. Well after most of his teammates retreated to the dressing room, the defenseman did sprints on the ice with his 18-year-old son, Dean, who is prepping for tryouts for his junior team in the United States Hockey League.
Roberts has played in only six of Pittsburgh's 14 postseason games this year because of leg injuries and a bout of pneumonia that forced him out of the Eastern Conference finals after Game 2.
He declared himself healthy Friday, which is why he appeared disappointed and angry after being told he wouldn't immediately regain a spot in the lineup.
Therrien cited the good play of Tyler Kennedy, Jarkko Ruutu, Adam Hall, and Georges Laraque - a group of gritty forwards who dressed for the opener against the Red Wings.
``Obviously it's not an easy decision,'' Therrien said Saturday morning. ``It's something to say, 'Yes, we're going to bring in another player,' but the toughest decision is not that, it's who are you going to take out? Those guys did a great job so far.
``That's the number one reason why that we're not changing the lineup. It's not that we don't want Gary Roberts. That's part of being a good team. We've got depth, and we're going to start the series like this. I'm not saying that he's not going to play.''
Chelios sat out the final game of the West finals against Dallas, and the Red Wings are sticking with the winning formula.
``I hope we keep winning. It doesn't bother me one bit,'' Chelios said. ``I'm here and I'm ready when I'm needed. You come so far and get so close, I feel like I contributed well.''
Now he is helping his son prepare for his junior league season that they hope will lead to a scholarship at a major university such as Michigan or Wisconsin, Chris Chelios' alma mater.
Once Red Wings coaches left the ice Saturday, Dean came on to skate with his dad and some of his much younger Detroit teammates. Dean patterns his game more like Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk than his defensive-minded father.
``He's a goal-scoring forward - hands like (Mario) Lemieux, feet like (Luc) Robitaille,'' Chris Chelios said with a smile. ``He sees the game a whole different way than I do. It's hard for me to teach him because he plays that patient game. He does things that Datsyuk does and he tries all that stuff. He's just got to get his feet moving.
``He's very skilled, great hands. He makes some of our guys look silly. They're not hitting him, but if you talk to some of the young guys, he's had some good games with them.''
---
SID'S CUP MEMORIES: When you are 20 like Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, your memories of previous Stanley Cup finals go back only so far. Crosby is a student of the game and can remember back to when he was just 5.
``When Montreal won in '93, that's probably my first memory,'' Crosby said Saturday. ``They were my favorite team growing up. I remember seeing them lift the Cup. That's probably my first memory.''
He recalled another moment etched in his mind when Carolina's Doug Weight fought off injury in 2006 to raise the trophy for the first time.
``He was lifting the Stanley Cup with a separated shoulder,'' Crosby said. ``He could barely get it over his head.''
---
DRAPER'S DAY: It doesn't get much better than this.
Red Wings center Kris Draper had a Saturday unlike any other. The veteran of 16 NHL seasons, 12 with Detroit, was beaming even though his face was still a bit swollen after he used it to score a goal in the clinching game of the West finals against Dallas on Monday.
``It's an unbelievable day for me,'' the newly turned 37-year-old Draper said. ``I'm celebrating a birthday, bringing home my baby girl, and playing in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals. It's an awesome day.''
Draper's daughter Kamryn was born Thursday, and she joined new brother Kienan and sister Kennedi.
The rugged forward also had a laugh when asked about minor league baseball player John Odom, who was traded this week by the Calgary Vipers of the Golden Baseball League to the Laredo Broncos of the United League for 10 Prairie Sticks Maple Bats.
That's a king's ransom in the world of Draper, who was dealt by Winnipeg to Detroit 15 years ago for the whopping price of one dollar. Draper played in only 20 games for the Jets in four years after being chosen with the 62nd pick in the 1989 draft.
``Well, 10 bats are a lot more expensive than one dollar, so that's not too bad,'' said Draper, who has scored 141 NHL goals and won three Stanley Cup titles. ``To this day, I never found out if it was an American dollar or a Canadian dollar. That's the one looming question that I always have.''
---
DUMPING IT IN: The Pittsburgh Penguins are unfamiliar visitors to Joe Louis Arena, but the Eastern Conference champions discovered something there that could come in handy.
During drills Saturday morning, the Penguins practiced dumping pucks into the offensive zones at both ends of the 28-year-old arena. Pucks that sailed wide of the net often jumped quickly back in front off the end boards.
Suddenly, a strategy was born. Maybe it could be advantageous to miss the net and play the carom.
``The coaches noticed that, and we were trying assess that a little bit this morning,'' forward Jordan Staal said. ``I don't know if we want to use it every time. You want to get the puck on net as best we can, but if it's open and if it's there we'll take it.
``It's a lot more lively than any other building than I've been in. We want to get it on net first, but if they're in the lane, then we're going to try to bounce it off.''
The Penguins haven't played a game that counts at Joe Louis Arena since a 3-1 loss on Dec. 5, 2005. Pittsburgh visited Detroit for a preseason game last September, but most of the regulars on both sides sat out for that 1-0 Red Wings victory in overtime.

NHL Top Stories

Thumbnail Darling doing his finest Crawford impression The Blackhawks are missing their No. 1 netminder. Judging by the events of the last week, though, coach Joel Quenneville seems to have a...
Thumbnail Flames vs. Coyotes Prediction Will the under cash tonight when the Coyotes host the Flames at 9:00PM ET?
Thumbnail Caps, B's poised for ultra-competitive affair Despite minimal offensive contributions, Boston has captured three games in a row entering Wednesday’s matchup against Washington. Will Claude Julien’s club stay...
Thumbnail Montreal surprisingly mediocre on road Home ice has been very good to the Blues so far this season. But will the NHL’s top team put an end to the fun shortly?
Thumbnail Panthers vs. Bruins Prediction The Panthers have been a horrible bet against the Bruins but will they pull off the upset tonight at 7:00PM ET in Boston?

NHL Team Pages