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Prisuta: Datsyuk a presence

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By Mike Prisuta
Tuesday, June 9, 2009

It wasn't just that the Penguins came unglued; it was that the Red Wings were renewed.

That'll happen with Pavel Datsyuk.

Not that the mere presence of No. 13 in red unnerved the Penguins in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night.

But Datsyuk in uniform reinvigorated a Red Wings team that was in dire need of a jump-start after having come somewhat unglued in Game 4. The Wings didn't lose it to the degree that the Penguins would lose it a game later. But they were yapping and scrumming and otherwise reacting in a very un-Red Wings-like fashion after Jordan Staal's short-handed goal tied Game 4 and caused Detroit to "unravel a little bit," according to winger Daniel Cleary.

In Game 5, the Red Wings rallied 'round Pavel and all was seemingly right with their world again.

The Penguins had little, if any, response that didn't involve an elbow, slash or some other illegal act.

The Penguins would have you believe their Motown Meltdown and Detroit's resurgence amounted to just another juxtaposition of coincidental minors.

In reality, Datsyuk was guilty of instigating on both accounts.

The guy isn't an MVP finalist because he admittedly likes to drink lots of beer when injured (hey, who doesn't?).

Why else would Max Talbot have gone out of his way in his attempt to set Datsyuk up for another round or two of suds via an obvious slash to the skate in Game 5?

Talbot was asked Monday if he was "OK" with how that transgression transpired.

"I'm great with it," Talbot said. "I tried for the puck and the puck was there."

If he meant the puck was on the ice somewhere and so was Talbot, I see where he's coming from.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma saw such unnecessary penalties and the obvious impact of Datsyuk playing with Henrik Zetterberg and Cleary, and came to the conclusion that adjustments are in order for Game 6.

One would be the reacquisition of discipline.

Another would be the approach of Sidney Crosby's line in another anticipated matchup against Zetterberg's line (did we mention that group now includes Datsyuk?).

"One thing that was clearly evident is his line got to the offensive zone more," Bylsma said. "We're going to have to almost take a more defensive stance against him."

Penguins right winger Bill Guerin, a fixture on Crosby's line, knows what that means.

"We have to check," Guerin said. "We have to make sure those guys don't get as many opportunities as they did the other night (in Game 5)."

In other words, the Penguins better realize who it is they're up against.

With Datsyuk back, the Red Wings' lineup tonight should again be what it was for Game 5, which was what it was for Game 6 a year ago with the following exceptions:

• Jonathan Ericsson for Andreas Lilja.

• Marian Hossa for Dallas Drake.

• Ty Conklin for Dominik Hasek.

Pre-Datsyuk, the Penguins had been playing the Red Wings, and hanging in there shift for shift.

Since Saturday they've been playing the defending champions.

It's going to take a lot more than slashes and elbows to survive such a daunting confrontation.

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