Game 3 Notebook: Pens play hack-a-Homer
Homstrom becomes a marked man in front of Pens' net
And not just by referees — by every guy wearing a black & yellow jersey with a little penguin on it.
After a raucous that ended Game 2, the Penguins continued to nudge, bump and crosscheck the Red Wings’ veteran power forward at every opportunity.
His most popular antagonists were Gary Roberts (The Veteran Pest) and Hall Gill (The Blue Line Bully).
“It’s frustrating,” Gill said of playing against Holmstrom. “When he’s on the power play, you can’t move him. When we’re trying to battle in front of the net, he falls down. Whether he does such a good job acting or the refs aren’t calling it, it’s frustrating.”
Early in the first, Holmstrom had a tight opportunity on Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Roberts nudged Holmstrom. The play ended with Holmstrom shoving Roberts flat on his back and the Mellon Arena crowd chanting, ‘Gary, Gary!’
Later in the period, Holmstrom’s high stick on Gill went unnoticed by the referees. So Gill came back at Holmstrom knocking him from behind once, then again, before Holmstrom got up and shoved back.
No call on either player that time.
In the second period, Gill didn’t want Holmstrom in the blue paint. So Gill took his stick horizontal and cross checked Holmstrom’s neck from behind.
For that infraction, Gill spent the following two minutes in the penalty box.
Same two guys at 12:57 of the second. This time, Holmstrom swung his stick back at Gill, but Holmstrom didn’t get called. Gill sat for less than two minutes this time, as Johan Franzen cut the score to 2-1 with his 13th goal of the playoffs.
“You want him to feel your presence, there’s no doubt,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. “But at the same time, you don’t want to take a penalty. There’s a fine line.”
LIVE WIRE: WDIV (Channel 4, Detroit) hit the road with their Red Wings’ pre-game show and got more than what they bargained for inside Mellon Arena before the start of Game 3.
As special analyst and former Red Wings’ 50-goal scorer Mickey Redmond gave his keys to the game for the Penguins, one of their misguided fans approached the WDIV position from behind.
“The Penguins have to move their feet through center ice,” Redmond told show host Bernie Smilovitz. “Detroit has thrown a blanket over them … ”
Mid-sentence, the fan interrupted … “Detroit sucks” and walked away.
Without missing a beat, Redmond answered the Pens’ fan with “thank you, get out of my way. And by the way, if they don’t move their feet they won’t win Game 3 or Game 4.”
Laughing uncontrollably, Smilovitz sent it back to studio hosts Devin Scillian and Carmen Harlan, saying, “We’re going to be here just to protect Mickey. The donnybrook started.”
KEEPING IT LOOSE: Henrik Zetterberg couldn’t find his teammates prior to the morning skate.
“He came into the dressing room, looked around and didn’t see anybody and realized there’s a great big soccer game going and he wanted to be a part of it,” Wings center Kris Draper said.
Prior to every game, players get in a circle and try to keep a soccer ball from hitting the ground. Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are some of the best players that partake in the ritual. But today, around 10 players engulfed the Zamboni area, including an unusual face — veteran defenseman Chris Chelios.
“Even Cheli got in the soccer game,” said Draper, the self-proclaimed best North American soccer player on the team.
Draper characterized the future Hall of Hamer’s game as “very average.”
DRW.com editor Bill Roose contributed to this report.