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DETROIT -- Marian Hossa is one win away from telling the world he made the right decision. Or two losses away from being second-guessed by everyone in hockey.
"He's a man, he made a decision," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said Sunday. "I think he's really pleased with his decision. You know, in some ways, it's probably as difficult a situation for him as it could have been. There could have been a lot of other teams we'd be playing and it would have been easier and we wouldn't be talking about this stuff.
"But I'm a big believer in life, when you make a decision, it's a good one, because you made it. You thought about it and you made the decision, now you live with it and you enjoy it. And I think that's what he's doing and I thought he was excellent last night."
The players in the Wings' dressing room, to some degree, have fed off Hossa's situation.
"With the addition of Hossa, it's really been a driving force for us," said Wings forward Daniel Cleary. "His determination and his will have rubbed off on us. He's played hard the last game. He's been hard every game in the series."
I asked Cleary if he thought what it would be like to be in Hossa's shoes er, skates right now, given his decision last summer.
"Yeah, it can't be easy," Cleary said. "But when you're an elite player, there is always pressure on you to perform. That's what makes players elite, is their ability to handle that, play through it. The hockey gods kind of smiled on everybody when this all happened [the finals rematch], but he's handled it well.
"It's not easy to go into Pittsburgh and play against your old team. He's got good friends there. But he's been really good. He's hard on the puck and physical. He proved that last game. I'm sure he's excited. We feed off the whole atmosphere of Pittsburgh ... it should be fun Tuesday."
The Red Wings were a turnover machine in Game 4, so unlike their usual form. Things were back to normal in Game 5.
"Well, what we did in the previous game is, we didn't handle the puck at all," Babcock said Sunday. "So when you don't handle the puck and you don't execute, suddenly the other forecheck gets better. So what we did, even as late as yesterday morning after the pregame skate, we had done it twice as a coaching staff, we went back and did it again. What are they doing on the forecheck that's giving us trouble? So we just thought that getting back and executing was the most important thing."
How are you, Pav?
Hart Trophy nominee Pavel Datsyuk pronounced himself no worse for wear Sunday after playing his first game in nearly three weeks.
"Feeling good and more confident," Datsyuk said. "And just, like, try to come back into my shape, work out and be ready for a very important game."
The Wings' depth
Detroit has lost key guys such as Datsyuk, Brian Rafalski, Nicklas Lidstrom, Jonathan Ericsson and Kris Draper in these playoffs and has stayed on course.
"I think our depth has really come through this year," said Draper. "I think more than ever, this is from the start of the playoffs to where we are right now, it's been an unbelievable team effort. ... The guys have stepped up with playing the games of their lives.
"You look at the guys that we've had scoring goals, scoring game-winning goals, overtime goals. [Darren Helm has] done an unbelievable job. [Justin] Abdelkader came in and did a great job for us. ... From top to bottom, it's an unbelievable effort."
Gotta look away
Unless he's on the ice about to win it, Draper says he can't bear to watch the final seconds of a Cup-clinching game.
"Yeah, to be honest, I love watching the game of hockey," he said. "But when we're not in the Stanley Cup finals, I never watch the end. I watch the hockey, and as soon as I realize what's going to happen, I turn the TV off or change the channel. Everything that we do as hockey players, all we want to do is get your name on that Stanley Cup. You know, you can never have it on enough. So when we lost in '95 to the Devils, we didn't want to experience that kind of bitterness and that bad taste again.
"We've had some success and we've had some disappointments, and that's exactly what's going to happen within a great organization. But you know, when you get here, you just want to lay everything on the line and have no regrets, you know? And I think we had that mindset last night, and we know we're going to need it again. Everything that we do from here on in is certainly worthwhile to try to get that one more win."