DETROIT – Detroit coach Mike Babcock had a cheering section from his alma mater, McGill University, in town for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final on Saturday and had some fun at their expense when asked about them after the game-day skate.
“I’ve already talked to security,” he said. “I said to security that I don’t want them to do anything that could be embarrassing.
“I like them to have as much fun as they want, but keep them confined to a reasonable amount of consumption and carrying on.”
A news release from McGill said 36 fans, including six of Babcock’s ex-teammates among 11 former Redmen hockey players, would be in Detroit for the game. The McGill group has attended NHL games to see Babcock coach in the past.
The Saskatoon native, who became the first McGill grad to coach a team to a Stanley Cup last June, was a captain and a two-time all-star defenceman for the Montreal university from 1983 to 1987.
He said he was under pressure from the alumni to wear his McGill tie for the game, but wouldn’t decide until just before the game.
“I actually bought a tie to wear and it wasn’t the McGill tie, but I am getting some pressure,” he said.
Babcock’s teams were 4-0 when he wore the red and white McGill tie, but the streak ended in Game 5 of last year’s Stanley Cup final when the Red Wings lost 4-3 in triple overtime to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the same team they are facing this year
NO HANDS TALBOT: Pittsburgh winger Max Talbot says he took some kidding after linemate Evgeni Malkin joked at a news conference this week that he had “no hands.”
“I got a couple of text messages and phone calls,” he said. “It was all for a good laugh.
“He told me enough in private that I had bad hands, so I wasn’t surprised to hear him say that in front of everyone.”
Actually, Talbot went into Saturday night’s game with six goals in the playoffs, which was fifth on the team, although two were into empty nets. It helps to play with a young star like Malkin, the post-season scoring leader.
When asked if he feared being named No Hands Talbot from now on, the Lemoyne, Que., native smiled and said “I hope not, but if so, I really don’t mind.”
Talbot, 25, was drafted 234th overall by Pittsburgh in 2002.
SHADES OF 2004: Penguins winger Ruslan Fedotenko sees one major similarity between this year’s Stanley Cup final and the one he played in 2004 – the need to win at least once on the road.
Fedotenko played for Tampa Bay that year, but the Lightning and the Flames split the first two games in Tampa, then split two games in Calgary. The Flames won Game 5 and the Lighting needed an overtime win in Calgary in Game 6 for taking the Cup back on home ice.
“For any team to win the Cup, you have to find a way to win on the road,” he said. “This is kind of similar because it’s two even teams and it’s a good battle. Every game is important.”
SUPERSTITIOUS SID: Sidney Crosby says the Pittsburgh Penguins were happy with their stay at the Ritz-Carlton in the suburb of Dearborn – about 25 minutes from Joe Louis Arena.
It’s the third different place the Penguins have called home in the Detroit area during the past two Stanley Cup finals. Heading into Game 5 on Saturday night, they’d only won once in five previous Stanley Cup games at the arena.
The change was intended to bring some more luck.
“I hope so,” said Crosby. “I hope so.”
While the Penguins captain indicated that he didn’t want the team to stay any further from the city in the future, he admitted that he’s a little bit superstitious.
“Sure, why not?” said Crosby. “I think a lot of hockey players are guilty of doing that.”
POWER FAILURE: The Detroit Red Wings aren’t exactly sure why their penalty kill has struggled so much this season.
Forward Kris Draper says that he thinks the team has been determined enough with a disadvantage, but also doesn’t believe the problem is simply a matter of X’s and O’s. The source of the trouble remains a mystery.
“If you could pinpoint one thing, you could bring in everyone who kills penalties and say, ‘This is what we have to do better,”‘ said Draper. “Unfortunately, that’s not the case.”
The Wings have statistically been among the worst penalty killers in the regular season and playoffs.
ODDS AND ENDS: In the 19 previous times the Stanley Cup has been tied 2-2, the team winning Game 5 has gone on to win on 14 occasions … Three Red Wings rookies have scored in this series – Justin Abdelkader, Jonathan Ericsson and Darren Helm. That hasn’t happened since Boston had three players do it in the 1988 final … Evgeni Malkin is vying to become the first player since Mario Lemieux in 1991-92 to win the regular season and playoff scoring titles.