|Red Wings confident, not cocky heading to Pitt|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 27 May 2008 13:50|
So far, their defensive perfection hasn't gone to their heads.
``It's only two games. We've got to stay humble,'' forward Johan Franzen said. ``But they're two solid games.''
The Red Wings stormed out to a 4-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night and then made it a double play Monday with a 3-0 win to make it a clean sweep at Joe Louis Arena.
And to think, Detroit might be even better on the road. After going 25-12-4 away from home in the regular season, the second-best mark in the NHL, the Red Wings are 5-3 in the playoffs outside of Michigan.
With another win Wednesday in the Steel City, the Red Wings will need only one more to capture the Cup for the 11th time overall and fourth time in 11 seasons.
``I say this all the time, if you just live in the moment, if you enjoy today and prepare and then we get up tomorrow, we enjoy and prepare tomorrow, we have a chance, I believe, to be successful,'' Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said Tuesday. ``That's going to be our focus, like it always is.
``I think we have a real professional group. I think we're a pretty consistent hockey club. We've had our moments, but I think we've been pretty consistent at playoff time.''
Detroit took a 2-0 lead over Nashville in the opening round before dropping two road games. The Red Wings rebounded to take the final two and move on. The injury-depleted Colorado Avalanche didn't put up much of a fight and were ushered on in four straight.
A seemingly insurmountable 3-0 edge over Dallas was trimmed to striking range when the Stars extended the series at home in Game 4 and then handed the Red Wings their only defeat in Detroit during the playoffs to force a sixth game.
Just when it seemed momentum might have shifted away from the Red Wings, they celebrated on enemy ice with a series-clinching win for the third time in this postseason.
``I've said this all along, every year,'' Babcock said. ``It's boring and redundant, but the game you're playing is the most important one of the year.''
Detroit will face new challenges in the next two games when the Penguins will have the last line change and will look to get Sidney Crosby's line away from the potent trio - on offense and defense - of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom.
Factor in a fantastic defensive core led by Nicklas Lidstrom, and the Red Wings have made Penguins puck passages through the neutral zone nothing more than a pipe dream.
They've shut down Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and still had enough left to keep the rest of the Penguins pointless, too.
``I don't think they look frustrated,'' Lidstrom said. ``No, they're still trying hard. We're trying to have the forwards come back real hard against them, take their time and space away, especially around the blue lines. We've been able to do that.''
And when the Penguins have gotten into the Red Wings zone, Chris Osgood has taken care of the rest. He faced his toughest action in the first period of Game 1 when the Penguins had four power plays and generated eight shots - five on one advantage.
He needed to make only seven saves the rest of the way to earn the shutout. Another 22 saves on Monday made it three blankings in these playoffs and 13 overall in Osgood's postseason career.
Not only do the Red Wings have a penchant for possessing the puck, they are pretty good with the lead, too. Detroit has trailed only 122 minutes, 2 seconds of 1,081:48 in the playoffs.
``Guys are playing hard,'' forward Kris Draper said. ``We're being very responsible at both ends of the rink, and we've got guys that play our system. We're playing it great right now. Obviously we're excited with where we are but we're going to continue to say it. We've only won two games and the next two are going to be the toughest.''