Guerin sees change in his former and current teammate Thornton

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The two skated together with the Boston Bruins and were reunited in San Jose when the Sharks acquired Guerin at the February trading deadline.

"He feels a bigger sense of responsibility," Guerin said. "He's our go-to guy.

"Along with him and Patty (Marleau), this is their team. I think he realizes that now. I don't want to say he didn't have that before but he was just younger before. He's ready now, or he's been ready the last couple of years, to really take on responsibility of being the leader on a team."

There's not a more laid-back star in the NHL than Thornton.

"He's such a happy-go-lucky guy," Guerin said. "Life is good all the time.

"In pressure situations, when you can look over at a guy and he's like, 'Come on, guys, let's go' . . . nothing is uptight. That helps. It's infectious. It goes through the room."


DATSYUK DROUGHT - Pavel Datsyuk, who just got a fat new contract extension of US $46.9 million over seven years from the Red Wings, had not scored a goal in his last 26 playoff games before he scored three against Calgary in the first round.

His regular-season numbers put him in the star category, earning him the big dollars, but he's been a dud when everything is on the line.

"It is not about one player, it is about the team," he replied Friday when asked about the need for Detroit's top forward to produce this week.


EMPTY SEATS: Announced attendance was 18,712 in the 19,066-seat Joe Louis Arena for San Jose's 2-0 Game 1 victory Thursday night. The Red Wings have played four home playoff games and none of them have been sellouts.

It's quite a change from the last championship run, in 2002, when tickets were hard to get and fans were more pumped up about the Red Wings than they are now.

Some blame high ticket prices.

"In the last few years, we have seen the state unemployment rate rise, the Pistons become one of the best franchises in sports, the Tigers make the World Series, Steve Yzerman retire and the Wings' payroll drop from almost $78 million in 2004 to $44 million this year," writes Detroit Free Press columnist Michael Rosenberg. "Yet the Wings expect fans to open the chequebook as they did in 2002.

"Playoff ticket prices have dropped 10 per cent from their peak but they remain too high. The Wings have clearly misjudged the market."


SEEING RED: Mike Babcock says he wound down from the emotional tugs and pulls of coaching his Red Wings in Game 1 by pouring himself a glass of red wine, turning on the TV and watching a hunting show after he got home Thursday night.

"A lot of people tell you it's just an even keel," he says of his profession. "I don't buy that.

"I'm in this business because it's the opposite way."

On Friday afternoon, he was going to a suburban rink to watch his son play hockey.


ZETTERBERG SLOWED - Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg didn't practise during the three days leading to the opener of their second-round series against San Jose. He had the flu, said coach Mike Babcock.

Zetterberg also is dealing with after effects of an inflamed disc that kept him out for the last 19 games of the regular season.



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