DETROIT - Nicklas Lidstrom's feet rested inches away from the winged wheel logo on the floor of the Detroit dressing room, a veritable shrine to the storied history of the Original Six franchise.
Pictures of Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay and all the Red Wings greats of the past adorn the walls along with a row of Stanley Cups depicting the franchise's 10 championship seasons.
Lidstrom will one day join that elite group, but for now he is a proud member of a gang of five that owns three Stanley Cup rings with the Red Wings and are one win away from a fourth. The others are Kirk Maltby, Kris Draper, Tomas Holmstrom, and Darren McCarty.
"It's nice when you've had a chance to win with the players of the past. You've got some great memories from back then, but you want to create new memories, too, with the same guys," Lidstrom said yesterday. "It's something we don't talk a whole lot about in here, but I think everybody has thought that in the back of their minds."
Back in Detroit after a stirring 2-1 victory in Pittsburgh on Saturday night, the Red Wings gathered for what well could be their last off day before a championship parade.
They lead the Penguins by three games to one in the series and can end it tonight at home where Detroit outscored the Eastern Conference title winners by a combined 7-0 in the opening two games.
This is where the Red Wings' experience can be a big edge over the Penguins' youth. Detroit nearly let a 3-0 series lead against Dallas get away in the Western Conference finals before finishing it in six games.
"Just because we're at home, we can't take for granted or assume we're going to have any sort of an advantage," Maltby said. "We have to come out and play the way we're capable of playing. If we do that, we'll have a good chance of winning, but we know they're not going to lie down for us."
That may be, but the Penguins have had a tough time scoring on goalie Chris Osgood. Since taking over for Dominik Hasek in the first round against Nashville this year, Osgood is 13-3 with a 1.45 goals-against average. He has allowed 24 goals in 17 games and only four to Pittsburgh in the Finals.
That doesn't bode well for the Penguins, who hope to force a Game 6 in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.
"We've got to win to stay alive," center Sidney Crosby said. "It's pretty clear and simple. We're going to be desperate, and all we focus on is winning that game."
Penguins coach Michel Therrien, asked about possible lineup changes or strategic adjustments, talked instead about how Henrik Zetterberg's exceptional play to keep Crosby from taking a shot from the side of the net during a five-on-three might have decided Game 4.
From the wistful and what-if way Therrien was talking, maybe he was thinking about how the play might decide the series, too.