Red Wings know what's at stake
Given the fact that his team has a chance to win a second straight Stanley Cup championship, almost every player in the Wings' dressing room has been in this position before. They already know what they have to do.
Now, it's just a matter of going out and beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals at Mellon Arena on Tuesday night (8 p.m. EDT, NBC, CBC, RDS). Detroit leads the best-of-seven series, 3-2.
"We haven't won anything yet," Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said at Joe Louis Arena Monday afternoon before the team departed for Pittsburgh. "I'm sure we're going to be focused on what we have to do. We'll talk about what we have to do and focus on the little things. We know we have to match their desperation, because they're going to come out real hard."
Should Detroit be able to close out this series -- whether it be Tuesday night in Pittsburgh or in a possible Game 7 back at "The Joe" -- it would be the fifth championship for the historic franchise in the last 12 years. Five players have been here for all five -- a strong indication of just how experienced this team truly is.
That's why Babcock won't have to say much prior to the start of Game 6.
"I think that's been the case every year," said Wings forward Kirk Maltby, who is one of those aforementioned players just a win away from his fifth championship in Motown. "Whether we're in the first round or the Final, everyone knows what the objective is here. We've known that from Day One at (training) camp. There's not a whole lot that needs to be said. You do what you have to do to get prepared, and at the drop of the puck, it's just play."
That's exactly what goaltender Chris Osgood has done since the start of the playoffs. After an uncharacteristic regular season (3.09 goals-against average, .889 save percentage), Osgood has emerged a legitimate candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy (15-6, 2.00 GAA, .927 save percentage) as the Most Valuable Player of the postseason. The 36-year-old isn't expecting a major speech from Babcock on Tuesday night.
"We've been here before and we've had lots of games like this, so we know how to approach them," said Osgood, who blanked the Pens with a 22-save effort in Game 5 on Saturday. "He'll approach it like the same as any other game. Mentally, I think we'll be better than the two games we played there."
Detroit took a 2-0 series lead to Pittsburgh before dropping back-to-back 4-2 decisions to the Pens to even things up. But just like the 2008 Stanley Cup Final, the Wings head to the Steel City with a chance to close it out thanks to Saturday's 5-0 win in Game 5. Last year, they were able to finish the job in Game 6.
It's that type of experience that they can lean on heading into Tuesday night. But they all know it won't be easy, just like getting back to this point wasn't.
"When you win last year and do what we're doing this year, I think it's phenomenal," Babcock said. "This is the hardest year I've ever had in coaching, and I think it's one of the hardest years for the players. Ozzie battled like crazy. These are good, good people. Veteran people understand that ideally, it's going to come around."