PITTSBURGH -- Some coaches call on a former teammate or coaching mentor when they need advice. Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock solicits help from one of the most successful coaches in pro sports history.
Babcock has the advantage of being able to talk to former Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman face-to-face during the Stanley Cup Finals, because Bowman was in Pittsburgh to drop the ceremonial first puck before Game 3. The Red Wings take a 2-1 series lead into Game 4 on Saturday following a two-day break.
Babcock leans heavily on Bowman's advice, and why wouldn't he? Bowman is a nine-time Cup winner with Montreal, Pittsburgh and Detroit who still watches numerous games at his home in Florida.
"We talk about if their coach does this, what am I going to do?" Babcock said Thursday. "And if he does that. Or did you like this player last night? Or what did you think of this? We go through it all."
Penguins fans may be interested in this recurring topic of conversation: The Bowman-coached 1993 Penguins, widely regarded as the best team in franchise history.
They won a record 17 games in a row late in the season, but couldn't follow up their Cup victories in 1991 and 1992 after being upset by the Islanders during the second round.
"We talk about the best Pittsburgh team he coached that never ever won the Cup," Babcock said.
And, no doubt, what the Red Wings can do to avoid being the team that Pittsburgh beats to win its next Stanley Cup.
If the Penguins rally to win the Stanley Cup, defenseman Brooks Orpik's third-period shift during their 3-2 win in Game 3 is likely to be recalled for years.
Throwing his body around recklessly, Orpik was credited with four hits in a 14-second span as the Penguins fought to get the Red Wings out of their zone. Orpik had two hits on Dallas Drake and one each on Kris Draper and Daniel Cleary.
Orpik said it is important for the much younger Penguins to be physical against the Red Wings, especially the longer the series goes.
"That was awesome," teammate Maxime Talbot said. "I mean, it was probably one of the loudest moments I've seen (from) this crowd. It was great. The shift was just amazing."
Orpik said he wasn't being carelessly aggressive because that might have created a scoring chance.
"The opportunity was there and, when it's there this time of the year, you really want to make them pay," Orpik said. "Like I said, that's kind of my role on the team."
Talbot saw similar flurries of emotion from 42-year-old forward Gary Roberts, who was angry at being scratched for Game 1 and has carried that unhappiness and aggression into his play.
"You look at him after a goal or something, during the celebration, and you look in his eyes and you're kind of scared," Talbot said. "You know, like, 'Oh my God, that guy's intense.' And it's great."
For the first time since the Stanley Cup playoffs began during the first week of April, Sidney Crosby got a day off Thursday. From the media, that is.
Crosby, the Penguins' captain, had met with the media each day of the postseason and, sometimes, twice a day. The only exception came when the Penguins had extended breaks between series.
No doubt for Crosby, it was a much-welcomed day of silence following his two-goal game Wednesday.
Long night at the office
Not only did the extended ice time wear down his stars, it meant Babcock's other lines weren't getting their usual time.
"I think last night, yeah, the shifts were a little too long," Zetterberg said. "And that's what happens when you want to do a little too much. And it's easy to stay out a little bit longer. And you get tired."
Zetterberg played 24 minutes, 40 seconds, or nearly as long as defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, who regularly logs up to 28 minutes per night and was on the ice for 25:34 in Game 3. Datsyuk played 22:40, or more than defenseman Brian Rafalski (22:25).
Babcock didn't offer an injury update Thursday but said, "After the game, he didn't feel too good."
Holmstrom will be evaluated when the Red Wings practice Friday.
- Three of the last four teams to take a 2-1 series lead into a road Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals won, with the exception being New Jersey in 2003 against Babcock's Anaheim Mighty Ducks. The Devils won that series in seven games after leading 2-0.
- Neither team is doing much with a man advantage. Detroit is 2-for-19 on the power play and Pittsburgh is 1-for-11.