PITTSBURGH -- Before Game 6 in Pittsburgh, some Detroit Red Wings players were kicking a ball around soccer-style when I was walking by. Trying to dodge the ball, I accidentally bumped into referee Bill McCreary, who was walking by carrying a cup of coffee.
The hot product spilled all over McCreary's hands.
He was not amused. Not that I was trying to be amusing.
Anyway, Pavel Datsyuk of the Wings and Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins spoke after the Game 6 victory for the home team about a number of subjects, including what to look for in Game 7, being so close to winning the Stanley Cup and Malkin speaking about both Marian Hossa and his plans for octopi in Detroit.
First up is Datsyuk:
Q. Did you have a gut feeling before the final that this would be a seventh game series?
DATSYUK: To be honest with you, I didn't think about it at all. I just want to win. It is clear that the Pittsburgh Penguins are an excellent team. So, I don't think anyone thought it would be easy.
After your comeback from the foot injury it seems you have some special attention from some Penguins' players: Like Max Talbot slashing you on your injured foot; and tonight Matt Cooke almost having a knee on knee collision with you.
To be honest with you, it is great! It just means they don't like me for something. On a different hand, this is the playoffs and the game is very aggressive, especially in the finals. But it is all within the rules.
Did the Penguins play really well in the first two periods, or was Detroit a little sleepy?
They started very well. They always do at home because their fans help them a lot. Then we started taking over slowly. The game completely changed in the middle of the second period. We just didn't have enough.
Why didn't you shoot more? It seemed like you always tried to pass the puck.
No, I don't think so. Maybe it just looked that way, but no one thought about bringing the puck into the net on a plate. We know that we have to shoot more and to storm the crease.
What do you expect from Game 7?
I expect to have a lot of fun. Especially because we are playing at the Joe Louis Arena in front of our fans! It is a dream come true. Game 7 is going to be great!
Malkin's father confessed that this was the most difficult game for him to watch in quite some time. Malkin's mom went even further. She was so overwhelmed with emotions after the Pens' win, she began to cry right in front of other fans.
Here's her son:
Q. Before the series began, did you think it would go to seven games?
MALKIN: Honestly? I didn't. I didn't have any thoughts about that. It just so happened that the series is going all the way. It's great that we now only have one game left. We will try to play for the win.
How do you plan to win an away game? Home teams are 6-0 in this year's final. Maybe do something extraordinary like skate over an octopus?
Yeah, this is a great idea! But it can cause an injury, actually.
I don't know yet. We will start thinking about it tomorrow or the day after, because we have a day off tomorrow. We have to figure out a way to beat Detroit in their building. We lost three games to them at the Joe, and we really don't want to lose the fourth game. We have to break this losing tradition. But if we keep playing the way we did today, we should be good.
I had a chance to speak with your dad who said that he had never been as nervous in his life as he was today. Has any of that rubbed off on you?
No, I don't think so. I have actually gotten used to it all. It was our sixth game. I was nervous before the game, right before we went out on the ice. But then it is all forgotten and you are just doing your job. I think it is a lot harder for the fans and spectators.
After two periods you limited the Red Wings to just 12 shots on goal. Was it because they shot too little, or because you were doing everything right?
It is difficult to do everything right for two periods. We did make mistakes. But we took care of them in defense, we blocked shots, all the guys were playing well defensively. We were fighting for every inch of the ice. We helped our goaltender and he saved us a lot. We started really well and we scored first. It's great to start the game and then to take the lead. It is extremely difficult to try and even the score after falling behind against such a great team like the Red Wings. That's why we have to score first, because it gives us a great chance.
Can you almost feel the Stanley Cup in your hands?
No. But it is a lot closer this year. We have a more even team. And we are playing awesome as a team. And now we have a Game 7. I think Detroit will also be nervous. We have our strengths. We have to play our hockey and not adjust to Detroit's style.
Tell me honestly, would you like to spoil this one for Hossa?
I wouldn't say we want to spoil anything for anyone. We just want to win it for us, and to write our names on the cup and in history. We are fighting for our goals, and he is fighting for his. It is his business that he is playing for Detroit.
Now that you are in game seven. Can you breathe easier now?
Of course I can. The mood is great and we are ready to go to this new battle with new energy. This is the last battle and by far the most difficult one. It may only happen once in a lifetime to be playing in game seven of the Stanley Cup final. I think emotions will be just oozing out of every pore. But we have to overcome all that. And the first team to overcome these emotions will have the upper hand."
You told me once that you don't think that having a beard brings some kind of luck, so you just shave it. You have been playing like an MVP in this series. Without a beard. Maybe you should just shave everyone else's beards on your team to give them your luck?
No, I don't think so. Everyone has their own superstitions. I just don't believe in the playoff beard. Others do. Why would I get in the way of their beliefs?
There is something for everyone. I noticed that Lidstrom is also playing without a beard. So, it is all personal. Maybe if I had a super-beard, I would let it grow. The most important thing is to believe in your team and not in superstitions.
You didn't score tonight. Did you achieve your goal for tonight?
I think I am happy with my game, because we played well in defense especially against Zetterberg and Datsyuk. We didn't let them create any chances tonight. Maybe it's good that I didn't score. When you don't score for a couple of games you become really hungry for goals. That means that in the next game I will definitely score.