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Aging Red Wings Are Just Going With Flow

TIMES STAFF WRITER

With 11 players at least 29 and four closer to 40 than 30, the Detroit Red Wings realize their days as the NHL’s dominant team may be numbered.

Maybe that’s why they seem relaxed, compared to last year’s team, and are enjoying this season’s Stanley Cup run.

“You never know what is going to happen, but it’s different trying to win your second Cup,” forward Martin Lapointe said. “Usually, once you’ve been there, teams tend to [have problems concentrating] once they go up [in a series]. But not this team. This team is totally the opposite. Everyone just wants more and more.”

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Washington, which seems shocked to be one game from elimination, is hoping for a letup by the Red Wings, who have scored first in 13 of 21 playoff games and are 12-1 when they have done so.

“There’s a first time for everything, but we can’t look at it like we have to win four games in a row against them,” Capital goaltender Olaf Kolzig said. “You have to look at winning one at a time, and that is when the cliches come out.

“It’s going to be a monumental task to come back. But the fourth game is always the hardest one to win. We have [had] to see that from the other end of things [having led in the earlier round of the playoffs] until now, so we know.”

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This year’s finals might end up as a sweep, but the games have been so entertaining that even the players have taken notice.

“This has been a fun series to sit back and watch,” Detroit defenseman Jamie Macoun said. “The toughest part for us is the first couple of minutes of the game. But we can go out and hit or be hit, and that relieves some of that.

“But before the game, you’re walking around for an hour or so. You’ve got a lot of butterflies, so you’re popping the Tums or the Pepto-Bismol. But like I said, we can go out there then. Fans just have to sit in their seats and absorb it all.”


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