PITTSBURGH -- Try as they might to keep things normal, there's really no way for the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks to do that as they head into Game One of the Stanley Cup final here tonight.
"It's more anxious," Sharks winger Joel Ward admitted after today's pregame skate in Consol Energy Center. "There's a layoff from the last series and when you win, you just want to keep playing."
The visitors' dressing room at Consol is an above-average sized one but was still unable to comfortably hold the large media corps that covers the final.
"You just treat it like another game and go about your routine or at least you try to," said a laughing Ward. "Obviously this all is a little much but you try to focus in and treat it like your normal business."
"I haven’t done this before. I think we’re all excited," said Pittsburgh defenseman Ben Lovejoy. "There was an excitement level in the dressing room this morning. Guys have energy. I’m sure that it won’t be a huge nap day for most of the guys. Guys are fired up and ready to go."
The biggest lineup mystery remains Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, who didn't practice Sunday and didn't take the morning skate Sunday. Letang spoke to the media at the official NHL podium today, an unusual move for a player on a gameday, but didn't have much to say about his status.
Q: Are you playing tonight? A: "Yep"
Q: No problems? A: "Nope"
Pens coach Mike Sullivan was equally coy. Asked how confident he was that he would see the same Letang who played 28:13 in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference final against Tampa, Sullivan simply said, "very confident" and didn't expound on his answer.
Faceoff tonight is shortly after 8. NHL Commisioner Gary Bettman will hold his annual opening night press conference at 5:30.