Traverse City Record-Eagle

Sports

June 10, 2009

Drake: Home ice a big advantage

It allows Detroit to put Zetterberg on Penguins' Crosby

TRAVERSE CITY -- Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals will be a big advantage for the Detroit Red Wings.

And not necessarily because of the crowd, says former Red Wing and Traverse City resident Dallas Drake.

"The matchups are probably the most important thing," Drake said Tuesday. "They get last (line) change and get certain people on the ice against certain people. That makes a lot more difference than a lot of people give it credit for. (Pittsburgh coach) Dan Bylsma is able to get who he wants out there and keep (Sidney) Crosby away from (Henrik) Zetterberg, so it makes a big difference."

In games at Detroit, where the Wings get the last change and have been able to stick Zetterberg on Crosby, the Penguins have been outscored 11-2.

Crosby has long been the NHL's darling, compared by many as the next Wayne Gretzky. Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have been one of the most potent one-two punches in the NHL this season, but neither factored into Tuesday's scoring as Pavel Datsyuk and Zetterberg shut down the duo.

"I think the NHL would love to see Crosby win a Stanley Cup," Drake said. "I don't know why they don't promote Datsyuk and Zetterberg as much as they promote those guys. But they just don't."

The Penguins pushed the series to a decisive Game 7 in Detroit on Friday with a 2-1 win in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

"Home-ice advantage is obviously a big part of that," Drake said. "Pittsburgh is a different team at home. They play with a lot of confidence there."

Ironically, Pittsburgh's 4-2 loss to Detroit in last year's finals has made them a more potent team to face this time around.

"They're a lot more experienced team," Drake said. "They know what to expect from the Red Wings. They just have more confidence now. Last year was a learning experience for a lot of those guys. They're all a year wiser."

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