Time to dig deep for Game 7

Bruce Garrioch, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:31 PM ET

DETROIT — Kirk Maltby has four Stanley Cup rings.

Not once has he had to earn one in Game 7 of a final. Until now.

Maltby and the Red Wings are going to have dig deep with the final tied 3-3 in a winner-take-all matchup tonight against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins at Joe Louis Arena.

“It’s hard to mentally sell it to yourself that it’s just another game because of the importance, but it is,” Maltby said yesterday following the Wings’ final practice of the season. “This is the game you prepare for all year. You just do what you have to do and do what you did all year. We just have to come prepared.”

While the Wings have loads of experience, only one player — defenceman Brian Rafalski with the champion Devils in 2003 — has played in Game 7 of a Cup final.

If the series stays the course, the Wings have to be favoured tonight as the home team has won every game in the final.

That being said, the Penguins have to feel pretty good about themselves following their hard-fought 2-1 win in Game 6 on Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

“We try to do the same things and act the same way and talk about the game the same way, and that our approach is the same, and we’ll be ready to play our best game for Game 7,” said Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma, whose team will try and become the first road team to win the seventh game of the Stanley Cup final since the 1971 Canadiens.

“We know what we have to do. We know what the challenge is. We know the team we’re facing and where we’re playing the game. We know the stakes. The challenge is make sure we’re focused. Get the right thoughts. Thoughts about how we need to play as individuals and as a team and be ready to play the best game we can.”

Both the Penguins (over Washington) and Red Wings (over Anaheim) won their second-round series in seven games in these playoffs.

“It’s going to be a different experience. Everybody is going to be going through their own emotions and everybody will want to have a good start,” said Wings defenceman Brad Stuart. “Other than that, you just go out and play and have fun like you always do.

“We’re all going to approach this differently, but I don’t think you have to believe you’re going to have to be a hero or anything. You just have to do your job and do it well. If we all approach the game like that collectively, we’ll be good. That’s how we have to come to the game.”

Crosby said the Penguins need to remain calm.

“We’ve been through so much as a team, especially this year,” said Crosby. “We’ve all dreamed of having this opportunity, so I don’t think there’s much that needs to be said. But I really think there’s a strong belief in all the guys in there that if we all do our best and bring the right things that we’re supposed to bring, we have a great opportunity to do something.”

At the end of the day, no matter who is successful, Detroit coach Mike Babcock said all the hard work and dedication will pay off for one team.

“To me, the greatest prize in hockey is the Stanley Cup. It’s an unbelievable trophy,” said Babcock.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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