PITTSBURGH - Maxime Talbot didn't beat around the bush Tuesday. Two bad losses into the Stanley Cup final and the Pittsburgh Penguins forward is ready to publicly announce his hatred for the Detroit Red Wings.
"Yeah, I do," he said after practice. "Because they're in the way of what we want and I have to hate them for that. I'm telling you, last game was chippy and dirty and hopefully the next game is going to be too.
"They're in the way of the prize we want. We have to hate them for that. They're easy to hate."
MULE NOT MIFFED: Johan Franzen wasn't miffed about being roughed up by the Penguins in his return to the Detroit lineup after missing seven games with concussion-like symptoms.
He felt fine and didn't have any headaches overnight.
"I feel better than I expected I would," he said after participating in an optional practice before his team's flight to Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
Gary Roberts stuck a gloved hand in Franzen's face in the third period, and the Swede they call "Mule" in Detroit went down like a ton of bricks. No penalty was assessed. Franzen didn't miss a shift. He was asked if he felt it was a cheap shot from Roberts.
"Maybe, but I've got to be ready for it," he said. "I'm going to try and give some cheap shots as well. It's part of playoff hockey."
Did he feel Roberts sent a message, and what would the message have been?
"Keep your head up," said Franzen. "Oh, I don't know, we're ready for them."
He had no message to relay to Roberts.
"I'm just going to work hard," said Franzen.
OZZIE DIVING?: Penguins head coach Michel Therrien believes Wings goalie Chris Osgood is falling a little too easily to draw penalties.
"It's tough to generate offence," began Therrien. "And you need to score dirty goals. The tic-tac-toe play, sometimes it's going to happen. But most of the time you're going to put the puck at the net, and you're going to crash the net.
"This is where it's tough for us. Because Osgood, like we saw yesterday on Malone, he's there to go in front of the net. If (Osgood) is going to go at the players and fall down, it's tough to score dirty goals. And he's good at it. ...
"Malone's intention was not to go to hit the goalie. This is not something we're doing. He went in front of the net, and Osgood challenged him and he fell. Sykora was trying to retrieve the puck. Osgood moved the puck, and he went on Sykora and fell down. Osgood did the same thing against Dallas, against Ribeiro."
SOLID DRAPES: Red Wings centre Kris Draper has a vital dual role, and his checking has helped make Pittsburgh star Evgeni Malkin almost invisible in the championship series.
Draper's teammates know how big a role he plays with the Red Wings.
"You can't put words on how much a guy like that means to the team," defenceman Niklas Kronwall said after Detroit's optional workout at Joe Louis Arena. "He's great on faceoffs, and great at shutting down guys."
Malkin hasn't had a shot on Chris Osgood for five periods.
TEAM EFFORT: Captain Nicklas Lidstrom says the Red Wings defence corps is getting a big helping hand from the team's forwards in thwarting Pittsburgh attacks.
"The forwards have done a great job of checking in the neutral zone and taking their time away," said Lidstrom. "When they come back hard like that, it's easier for the defencemen to stand up at the blue-line and close the gap between the forwards and the D. That's something we have to continue to do."
COACH PLEASED: Assistant Detroit coach Todd McLellan delivered a speech two years ago during the annual Roger Neilson Coaches' Clinic at the University of Windsor. The topic? "Forechecking Systems and Theories."
It is no mere coincidence that he's on the coaching staff and the Red Wings are crippling the Penguins with their forechecking.
"We don't chip and chase as much as other teams but when we do it we get to spots quickly and take time and space away," McLellan explains. "It's not a lot different from what other teams do."
So, why is Detroit's forechecking so much more effective than that of other teams? Because of a five-skater approach, says McLellan.
"It's all five on the ice doing it. It's not a one-man thing or a two-man thing. Everybody on the ice is active in it and has responsibilities in it. Because five guys are active in it, it makes it more effective."
TAPING IT UP: Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom uses his stick effectively and he doesn't drop it often because he puts a huge knob of white tape at the end of his stick shafts. He often uses one hand to extend his stick towards opponents and needs something at the end of the shaft to hold onto.
SHORT SKATE: Penguins captain Sidney Crosby skated on his own for 15 minutes before his team went out for an optional skate. Why?
"Just get a little skate," he said. "Sometimes optionals for guys who maybe didn't play as much, something like that, it's a little bit tougher, it's a little bit longer. Sometimes you just want to get out there and get what you need to do done and get off and get ready. So just little skill stuff. Nothing major."
With files from CP sports reporter Neil Stevens in Detroit.