By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – With a win Saturday, the Detroit Red Wings took a 3-2 lead in the first-round playoff series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa Bay needs a win Monday to force Game 7, and Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, perhaps in an attempt to put officials on higher alert, has labeled the Red Wings as experts in interfering and avoiding penalties for it.
“There are 30 teams in the league, and nobody does it more than the Detroit Red Wings, hands down,” Cooper said, per the Tampa Bay Tribune. “The old saying is, ‘If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.’ They do it to a ‘T.’
“My message to our guys is you’ve got to suck it up, got to fight through it,” Cooper continued. “And if they’re bringing it, you’ve got to bring a gun to a knife fight. That’s how it has to go. So to get on them, we have to be better.”
Red Wings forward Drew Miller said he is not concerned with what Cooper says about Detroit.
“They might not be happy with what we’re doing, but usually when things make someone not happy they’re effective, so I don’t know if that’s a penalty or what they’re thinking it is, but it’s the way we play, and I don’t see if changing,” Miller said.
“Maybe he’s just trying to rile his guys or put a thought in the referees’ heads or something, I’m not sure,” Miller added. “It’s just a situation that I’m not really worried about. That’s just, that’s a coach talking.”
Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock also dismissed Cooper’s comments.
“I just think at playoff time there’s no room,” Babcock said. “The most determined team fights through. If you’re not determined, you can’t fight through.”
The series has had its share of skirmishes already, with one of them in Game 4 resulting in a serious cut to the hand of Detroit forward Luke Glendening, who was forced to sit the rest of game. As soon as he left, the Lightning rebounded from a 2-0 deficit and eventually won 3-2.
Game 6 takes place at Joe Louis Arena and is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.