LA Times May 21, 2007
Selanne is more than Ducks' star of the moment
Right wing from Finland has been waiting 14 seasons for this wide-open opportunity.
May 21 2007
DETROIT Teemu Selanne might have been the most surprised person in Joe Louis Arena to find the puck on his stick in overtime Sunday and nothing between him and Red Wings goaltender Dominik Hasek but a few feet of mushy ice.
The Ducks' indomitable right winger had gone behind Detroit's net and pressured defenseman Andreas Lilja into mishandling the puck. Selanne's linemate, Andy McDonald, angled his body so that Lilja had nowhere to go, allowing Selanne to pounce on the loose puck and face Hasek alone.
Selanne had no time to think. In truth, he didn't need to ponder his next move, not after having scored 540 regular-season goals and 29 in postseason play over 14 NHL seasons.
A right-handed shooter, he went to his backhand and sliced a shot that was high and sweet and true. When it sailed beyond the reach of a flailing Hasek, the Ducks had rallied for an improbable 2-1 victory and were within one triumph of winning the Western Conference championship and with it, a berth in the Stanley Cup finals against the Ottawa Senators.
It all happened so quickly, so suddenly.
It was Selanne, the Finnish Flash, displaying a flash of brilliance.
"He was clutch," McDonald said.
Few are better in such situations, and his teammates' eyes widened like saucers when they saw the puck on his stick and Hasek at his mercy.
"When he's that close and it's just him and the goalie, I like his chances, for sure," said winger Corey Perry, who considers Selanne an inspirational influence because of his unflagging enthusiasm and poise under pressure.
"He's got great hands, and he sure knows how to put the puck in the net."
Selanne made no mistake on that shot, his second of the sudden-death period and second of a game the Ducks prolonged only because Selanne had set up Scott Niedermayer for a six-on-four goal with 47.3 seconds left in the third period.
Battered into ineffectiveness by the Red Wings' physical play in the first few games of this series, Selanne hadn't recorded a point until Thursday, when he had a goal and two assists in a 5-3 Ducks victory that evened the series at 2-2. But he never allowed frustration to get the better of him, never stopped working and encouraging his teammates and looking for the one moment where he could make a difference.
That moment arrived Sunday, 11 minutes 57 seconds into overtime.
He recognized it immediately.
"I knew right away what I'm going to try to do," Selanne said.
"That's why I'm practicing so many times. Everything happens so quickly that when the chance comes, it has to come from your mind. I have done so many goals with that move.
"It was a great feeling to see that go in."
His elation was instinctive too, erupting in a smile that stretched from Detroit to Helsinki and illuminated the suddenly gloomy arena. He earned that triumphant moment, and much more.
During a career that began in Winnipeg and has carried him through two tours of duty with the Ducks, Selanne has won a bucketful of honors. He was voted the NHL's rookie of the year in 1993, he won the inaugural Rocket Richard Trophy in 1999 as the league's top goal scorer and won the Masterton Trophy as the most inspirational player a year ago in recognition of his comeback from knee problems that nearly ended his career.
But never has he reached the Cup finals, coming closest last season when the Ducks lost the Western title to Edmonton in a five-game series.
He can make that grand leap on Tuesday, when the Ducks can close out the Red Wings at Anaheim. They know that they would not be in this position without the contributions he has made the last two games.
"Teemu's one of the best players in the league for a reason," said Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf, who was 7 years old when Selanne set a rookie goal-scoring record of 76 in the 1992-93 season.
"He's just going to stay with his game. Tonight was his turn again. He's been battling hard for us and taking lots of shots, and now a few are going in for him."
Perry, also 7 when Selanne broke into the NHL, said he has been impressed by Selanne's display of good humor through bad times.
"You see the smile on his face every day coming to the rink. You know how much he enjoys the game," Perry said.
"When he scores a big goal like that, that smile never wears off."
Selanne said he long ago learned not to let a goal drought bring him down.
"Everybody is going to have a tough time here and there. To be honest, I didn't feel pressure even one time," he said.
"When you start squeezing and feel pressure it's tough. Everything has to come automatically and smoothly and you have to make sure these things don't affect you mentally. Because then you're done."
The Ducks are far from done. The same is true of Selanne.
"I'm almost 37 years old. I've scored a lot of goals in this league," he said. "I have had slumps before, and I know how it feels. You just have to believe and enjoy.
"It took 22 guys to believe we could come back. This team hasn't quit once this year."
A year that is becoming sweeter by the game for Selanne.
LA Times May 21, 2007
Suddenly it's advantage, Ducks
Scott Niedermayer's goal on a six-on-four power play ties it with 47 seconds left in regulation, and Selanne's overtime goal gives Anaheim 2-1 win over Red Wings and 3-2 series lead.
By Eric Stephens, Times Staff Writer
DETROIT Less than a minute remained in a game the Ducks had no business winning, with the Western Conference finals possibly about to turn for good in the direction of the Detroit Red Wings.
Perhaps the only opportunity to change their fortunes stood before them. One final power play with two extra men on their side after pulling goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
With two shocking flash-point moments in Game 5, the Ducks might have destiny on their side.
Scott Niedermayer's deflected goal tied the score with 47.3 seconds left in regulation and Teemu Selanne won it 11:57 into overtime to give the Ducks a stunning 2-1 victory Sunday at Joe Louis Arena and an advantage of three games to two in the best-of-seven series.
The first team to win consecutive games in this hard-fought matchup, the Ducks now head home with the opportunity to clinch their second trip to the Stanley Cup finals in Game 6 Tuesday night in Anaheim.
"It's huge," Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf said. "To come up in this building and steal a game tonight and battle back the way we did, to stay focused and stay on the job at hand, it's good for our group.
"We've just got to continue on, and hopefully we can get it done at home."
Game 5 had been the Red Wings' domain in this year's Stanley Cup playoffs they won it in the first two rounds against Calgary and San Jose to help them close out those series in six games.
The near-sellout crowd of 20,003 anticipated a similar result. It seemed as if the Red Wings would make defenseman Andreas Lilja's first playoff goal stand up as they dominated play for most of regulation.
Except there was the final minute to be played. Pavel Datsyuk went off for interference at 18:13 of the third period, leaving the Ducks with the final 1:47 to play with an advantage.
The Ducks called a timeout. Giguere, who kept them close with a stellar game, went to the bench and his teammates went to work with two extra attackers.
Chris Pronger, who returned from his Game 4 suspension, got the puck along the left side and dropped it down low to Selanne. Selanne spotted Niedermayer in the slot and shuttled a pass to him.
Niedermayer caught the puck with his right skate and shifted it to his shooting side.
"I didn't think about the series at that point," he said. "I'm just thinking about scoring a goal. That's what I think most of us are thinking. Just try to get a goal here to tie it up and go from there."
Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom got into position to make a play on Niedermayer's shot. The puck deflected off Lidstrom's stick and hopped over the left shoulder of Red Wings goalie Dominik Hasek, to the dismay of a crowd awaiting a celebration.
"I was going to put it off the crossbar and in," Niedermayer cracked.
With renewed energy, the Ducks took the offensive in overtime and forced a crucial mistake by Lilja.
Lilja barely escaped a speeding Selanne behind the net, but Andy McDonald cut off the defenseman as he headed up ice. Selanne jumped on the turnover and faked Hasek to the ice with a move before flipping a backhand shot top shelf on only his second shot of the game.
"You've just got to take advantage of the opportunities when you get the chance," McDonald said. "When Teemu gets that opportunity, he usually buries it."
All of this would not have happened if not for Giguere. He made 36 saves for the second consecutive game, including consecutive stops on Datsyuk and bang-bang saves on Johan Franzen in the third period.
Burned by Detroit's power play all series, the Ducks killed off seven disadvantages largely because of their goaltender's play. Giguere is now 12-1 in overtime playoff games.
"They're carrying the play, but it was only 1-0," Ducks center Todd Marchant said of Detroit's lead. "Jiggy played unbelievable for us. As a result, he kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win.
"We rewarded him with the overtime win."
Said Pronger: "It easily could have been 3-0 or 4-0 [Detroit]."
In truth, the Ducks also have fared quite well in the fifth game of series this postseason. They've used it as the series clincher against Minnesota and Vancouver.
Now that the pivotal game is theirs, the Ducks are on the brink of reaching the place they aimed for all season.
"In the end, we found a way to get it done," Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said. "There's been no quitting in this group whatsoever, right from the beginning early in September [during] training camp, right through to tonight."
LA Times May 21, 2007
DUCKS WEB REPORT
Brad May always seems to know his place
Ducks veteran forward is known more for his forechecking, but it was his ability to get the puck on net that helped keep his team close Sunday.
By Lonnie White, Times Staff Writer
DETROIT Ducks veteran forward Brad May is known more for his tough forechecking, but it was his ability to get the puck on net that helped keep his team close before winning, 2-1, in overtime against Detroit in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals on Sunday.
May, who finished with a team-high four shots on goal, began the game skating on the fourth line with Joe Motzko and Ryan Carter but ended it playing on a line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
"It's a 60-minute game where you can't let up," May said. "You have to keep working. They have a heck of a team over there but we were able to stay with it and get an opportunity to tie it late in the game and then win it."
May said once the Ducks forced Detroit defenseman Andreas Lilja to turn the puck over and it went to Teemu Selanne, he felt good.
"Any time the puck is on Teemu's stick, you know that he knows what to do with it," May said. "That's why he's one of the best."
The last time the Red Wings won a Stanley Cup championship, they also trailed, 3-2, in the Western Conference finals but rallied to knock out the Colorado Avalanche.
Detroit can only hope for the same results this postseason, starting with Game 6 on Tuesday at Honda Center.
"We know we can't afford to lose any more," Red Wings goalie Dominik Hasek said. "We have to continue to do things we did right in the second and third period [on Sunday]. It was bad luck the way they tied the game, but if we can play the same way, I believe we can win over there also."
Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom said his team will have to play with more control on the road.
"We have to bear down and play strong defensively," Lidstrom said. "We're going to have to sit and wait for our chances."
The Ducks' Scott Niedermayer on his tying goal, his third goal of the playoffs, which deflected off Lidstrom's stick at the end of regulation: "I was going to put it off the crossbar and in. I just tried to get it away quick and get it on net. Playoff hockey is tough in front of the net, and you just try and get the puck to the net and that's all they did."
Hasek on Niedermayer's goal: "It was a bad luck goal, but it counts like any other goal and in the overtime, you make a mistake and lose the game."
Although the Ducks won the game, 2-1, the Red Wings dominated selection of the three stars, 2-1, with Dan Cleary chosen No. 1 and Johan Franzen No. 3. Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere ranked No. 2.
Yes, the selections were made before overtime and weren't revised.
Times staff writer Helene Elliott contributed to this report.
LA Times May 21, 2007
Detroit pays steep price for penalty
Datsyuk says the interference infraction against him with 1:47 left in regulation was 'not a good call,' and it sure worked out badly for Red Wings, who surrendered tying goal on power play.
By Lonnie White and Helene Elliott, Times Staff Writers
For nearly 60 minutes, the Detroit Red Wings accomplished everything they had set out to do in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals Sunday at Joe Louis Arena.
But things turned for them late in regulation when forward Pavel Datsyuk was called for interference on the Ducks' Andy McDonald at 18 minutes 13 seconds of the third period.
"I think that is not a good call," said Datsyuk, who had a strong outing with four shots on goal and four takeaways for the Red Wings, who outshot the Ducks, 37-26. "I tried to [make a play] but it is a penalty. It is a 50-50 play."
With Datsyuk in the penalty box and Ducks goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere pulled, Scott Niedermayer scored on a six-on-four power play with 47.3 seconds remaining to tie the score at 1-1.
Niedermayer scored from the left circle when he fired a low shot that deflected off the stick of Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom and past goaltender Dominik Hasek, who had been stellar up to that point.
"We thought we played a pretty good game," Detroit Coach Mike Babcock said. "We felt we had our opportunities. They got one on the power play even though it was six-on-four."
With Hasek playing lights out in goal, the Red Wings seemed to have the Ducks' number all afternoon. Detroit was the more aggressive team with the best scoring chances.
Once in overtime, however, the Ducks' play picked up and in the end, it was a turnover by Detroit defenseman Andreas Lilja that led to Teemu Selanne's winning goal.
"We were going [well] but we needed more than one goal to go in," Datsyuk said. "But this team has lots of experience. All we can do is learn and build from this."
Babcock took a more philosophical approach to Detroit's inability to close out the Ducks.
"The playoffs are about adversity," Babcock said. "Things go your way, sometimes they don't.
"My belief in this group is we keep coming. It didn't go the way we wanted here tonight on the scoreboard. But it's not like we've come out and laid two eggs in a row here."
Apparently it wasn't Selanne's alert play that won the game for the Ducks, or Giguere's 36-save performance.
It was Sean O'Donnell's lucky suit.
The defenseman reached deep into his wardrobe for an electric-blue, double-breasted jacket and dark pants that he said he got in Edmonton in 1997, when he first made it to the NHL.
"It was my first tailored suit," he said, opening the jacket wide to show off the fit and the blue buttons. "It's a wee bit ridiculous, but who cares? It's playoff time."
However, the jacket's magic might be limited. O'Donnell said he wouldn't pull it out again Tuesday, when a victory by the Ducks would put them into the Stanley Cup finals. "There's only so many times you can go to the jacket," he said, smiling.
In the first five games of the series, the team with the most shots on goal has lost four times. In Game 2, the Ducks outshot the Red Wings, 33-27, and won, 4-3. Detroit's Johan Franzen had eight shots on goal Sunday. The Ducks' fourth line included two players with limited playoff experience in Ryan Carter, who saw his first postseason action in Game 4, and Joe Motzko, who made his postseason debut Sunday. Defenseman Rik Jackman, who scored a key goal in Game 4 when he took the place of suspended Chris Pronger, got the call again Sunday when Coach Randy Carlyle opted to sit Joe DiPenta.
OC Register May 21, 2007
NHL PLAYOFFS: DUCKS 2, RED WINGS 1 (OT)
Ducks turn tide with late surge
Selanne's dramatic goal in overtime caps an improbable rally that gives them a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals.
By DAN WOOD THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
DETROIT The Ducks felt pretty good about their odds once they hit a longshot Sunday at Joe Louis Arena.
They liked their chances even more when the puck landed on the stick of a wide-open Teemu Selanne just to the right of Detroit Red Wings goaltender Dominik Hasek 11:57 into overtime.
"I knew it was Teemu," Ducks center Samuel Pahlsson said. "I had a good feeling before it went in."
A patented move to his backhand enabled Selanne to roof the puck over a sprawling Hasek, pop the water bottle atop the net and cap an improbable 2-1 Ducks victory that produced a 3-2 lead in the NHL Western Conference finals.
The Ducks, who trailed until defenseman Scott Niedermayer scored a six-on-four, power-play goal with 47.3 seconds left in the third period, will have an opportunity in Game 6 on Tuesday night at Honda Center to win the bestof-7 series and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Ottawa Senators.
Selanne, held without a point in the first three games of the series before getting a goal and two assists in Thursday's 5-3 triumph, didn't have a shot on goal in regulation. His second one in overtime put Detroit on the brink of elimination.
"I was obviously surprised to get that puck so open," Selanne said. "Everything happened so quickly. You don't really have time to plan anything. Over the years I've been practicing that move so many times that it just came into my mind. I knew I would have to get it upstairs because Hasek goes down all the time and covers all the bottom. It was great to see that go in."
The opportunity came about after Selanne and Ducks center Andy McDonald pressured Red Wings defenseman Andreas Lilja as he carried the puck from behind the Detroit net. With McDonald hounding him, Lilja lost control in the slot, and the puck rolled to Selanne near the bottom of the left-wing faceoff circle.
"I was able to get a good angle at him," McDonald said. "I think he tried to pass it under my stick. You feel pretty good when Teemu gets the puck in front of the goalie. I wasn't celebrating yet, but usually when Teemu gets those opportunities, he buries them."
Selanne would never have had the chance if not for a fortuitous bounce on Niedermayer's equalizer that effectively robbed the Red Wings of a victory they probably deserved.
Stymied by the heroic play of Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who permitted only Lilja's first career playoff goal at 6:13 of the second period, Detroit had mounted a 34-16 advantage in shots before Pavel Datsyuk took a penalty for interfering with McDonald at 18:13 of the third period.
With Giguere off for an extra attacker, Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger moved the puck down the left side to Selanne, who found Niedermayer near the inner edge of the left circle. Niedermayer's quick shot deflected off the shaft of Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom's stick and fluttered past Hasek's left shoulder.
"I was going to put it off the crossbar and in," Niedermayer joked, before turning serious. "I just tried to get it away quick. Playoff hockey, it's tough in front, and you just try to get the puck to the net. That's all I did."
Having again fallen victim to a stretch of undisciplined play that gave the Red Wings four consecutive power-play opportunities in the second period, the Ducks were probably fortunate to still have a chance.
"It wasn't over," Niedermayer said. "You're only down one goal. You have 20 minutes to try and tie it up, make something good happen. We knew we could be better, and we would need to be. We just kept working at it.
"Obviously, we were happy to force it into overtime, and take our chances there."
OC Register May 21, 2007
Team loves it when Giguere works overtime
DETROIT With 1:47 left in Sunday's third period, Jean-Sebastien Giguere came to the bench.
Behind him, sitting there with its posts and its crossbar and its net, was his own private Alamo.
To that point, the Detroit Red Wings had outskated, out-hit, out-shot, out-poised and out-battled Anaheim by yawning margins in Game 5.
They had outscored the Ducks, too by one.
Giguere bobbed, weaved, challenged when he had to, stayed deep when he should have. He peeked around Tomas Holmstrom to find the shooters. He kept an eye, as best he could, on the Red Wings fly- ing around the back of his net like cornering Grand Prix racers. He tracked the pucks the Wings shot wide of him, the ones that ricocheted off the bouncy boards and back into scoring position.
He was playing championship hockey for those three periods and continued to hope that the Ducks would join him at some point.
Now Randy Carlyle pulled him, and he skated over and sat down and watched the Ducks skate 6 on 4, thanks to an interference penalty by Pavel Datsyuk.
And with 47 seconds left, Scott Niedermayer found a hole in the defense, jumped into it, and steered a puck in front of Detroit's net, where it caromed off Nicklas Lidstrom's stick and into Valhalla.
A hockey game that could have been 5-0 was now 1-1.
Headed into Giggytime.
"We were champing at the bit to get back out there," Chris Pronger said.
And what do you know? The Ducks outshot Detroit, 8-3, in GT and won, 2-1, on Teemu Selanne's point-blank backhand after Andreas Lilja surrendered the puck under pressure from Andy McDonald.
The Ducks mobbed Selanne over by the glass, and Lilja disgustedly broke his stick over his knee.
And the series bounces back to Anaheim for Game 6 on Tuesday, with the Ducks leading, 3-2.
They are more convinced than ever that tough games don't last as long as tough goalies do.
"It's huge when you can come back and steal a game like that," Ryan Getzlaf said.
Every thief needs a lookout.
Giguere was watching over them from the beginning, and especially in the second period, when another March Of The Ducks led straight to the penalty box.
They had three shots in the period and Detroit had four power plays.
Yet Giguere was always there, stopping Holmstrom up close, gloving eight of Johan Franzen's shots and six of Henrik Zetterberg's, denying the endlessly clever Datysuk, watching Valterri Filppula's drives go just wide, hearing the melodic â€˜ting' of Lidstrom's rocket hitting the post.
"I got a little lucky on that one," he said, "but our penaltykillers did a great job getting rid of the rebounds, making sure I could see where the shots were coming from. I felt good, felt like I was seeing the puck well."
Each time Giguere does this, somebody has to take whiteout to the record book.
He is now 12-1 lifetime in overtime playoff games. He has made 100 overtime saves, on 102 shots. He is also 3-0 in Joe Louis Arena overtimes. And 13-0 in dismissive explanations.
"If you check my overtime record in the regular season it's not so good," Giguere said. "If I knew why it happened this way, I would write a book."
And the Ducks would have time to read most of it in a penalty box.
"We just can't keep playing like this, against a team like this," Giguere said. "They have a lot of great plays. Nothing that we haven't seen before, but they have speed, and they take advantage of it, and they passed it well to each other.
"You just give them too many chances. It's not the referees, it's us not moving our feet. When we move our feet we're a great team."
"That's the reason we couldn't get much going," Getzlaf said. "You kill that many penalties, you have the same guys out there on the ice all the time and your legs are just dead."
But the Red Wings failed to score a power-play goal for the first time this series, and not because they weren't darkening Giguere's door.
"We have ultimate confidence in him," Corey Perry said. "You saw everybody's eyes light up when we tied it up, because we felt pretty good about overtime."
McDonald and Pronger got the assists.
Another one went to a large fluffy yellow duck, hanging in the doorway of the training room.
It was a gift from Connor and Mackenzie May, the nephew and niece of Brad May. They came down from Stouffville, Ontario, and presented it before Game 2. Since the Ducks won that one (in overtime), May kept it around.
This time the Ducks decorated its back with "Kunitz 14," in honor of their fallen forward.
It has a seat on this bus from now on, provided it gets permission from the remarkable goalie who keeps driving it.
OC Register May 21, 2007
Rookies make an impact
By DAN WOOD THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
DETROIT Who are these guys, and what were they doing playing critical minutes for the Ducks in the NHL Western Conference finals?
For the second consecutive game, Coach Randy Carlyle pulled a lineup surprise in Sunday's 2-1 overtime triumph over the Detroit Red Wings that moved the Ducks within one victory of a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.
After inserting rookie center Ryan Carter in Thursday's 5-3 victory at Honda Center, Carlyle stuck with Carter and also called on right wing Joe Motzko.
Skating on the fourth line, Motzko played six minutes, 16 seconds, and Carter 4:40. Motzko skated five third-period shifts and another in overtime, while Carter had four shifts in the third period.
"We felt we needed a little bit of energy, and I thought they provided that for us," Carlyle said. "They were fine.
"Obviously, it's a tall task to ask that of young players in the Stanley Cup conference finals, but they're confident. The big thing about those kids is they're going to be part of our future, and we have to make sure we expose them to some of these situations. We expect them to come back even stronger. I think it will be easier for them to play in the next game if we make a decision to utilize them."
Carter, who signed a freeagent contract with the Ducks last summer, never had appeared in an NHL game before Thursday. Motzko, whom the Ducks acquired in a Jan. 26 minor-league trade with Columbus, had 11 games of NHL regular-season experience with the Blue Jackets, including seven this season.
Carter, 23, received credit for one hit Sunday. Motzko, 27, had three. Motzko also took a holding penalty at 15:41 of the third period that could have proved disastrous had Detroit scored on the power play.
"Probably the longest two minutes of my career," Motzko said. NOTES
Ducks goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who registered 36 saves, improved his career playoff overtime record to 12-1, including 4-0 against the Red Wings and 4-1 this season. Teams winning the fifth game of best-of-7 series that were tied at two victories apiece have gone on to capture the series on 157 of 195 occasions in NHL history.Defenseman Ric Jackman remained in the Ducks lineup, in place of Joe DiPenta.
1. JEAN-SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: The Ducks never would have been in the game without 36 saves from their goaltender, right. 2. TEEMU SELANNE: After setting up the tying goal late in the third period, the Finnish Flash buried the winner in overtime.
3. SCOTT NIEDERMAYER: The clutch captain rescued the Ducks by scoring on the power play with 47.3 seconds left in regulation.
After having two bounces off defenseman Francois Beauchemin go against them in a 2-1 loss in the series opener, the Ducks got some payback Sunday. Niedermayer's tying goal, on a shot from the inner edge of the leftwing face-off circle, glanced off the shaft of Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom's stick and fluttered past goalie Dominik Hasek.
THEY SAID IT
"I didn't think about the series at that time. You're thinking about scoring a goal. That's what most of us are thinking. That's what I was thinking, just try to get a goal, try to get it tied up and go from there." - Scott Niedermayer
OC Register May 21, 2007
Ducks' victory makes Hull look silly for 'terrible' analysis
If you listen to and believe the NHL studio analysts working the conference finals for Versus and NBC, you might think the Ducks have a chance to be the worst team in history to win the Stanley Cup.
Put it this way: I lost count of the number of times Brett Hull used the word "terrible" to describe the Ducks and Game 5 hero Teemu Selanne during Sunday's NBC telecast.
Perhaps it's a coincidence, but Hull, a former Red Wing who was on Detroit's 2002 Stanley Cup championship team, sounded like a man who lost a bet on Game 5.
This is what Hull thought of the Ducks' performance after they pulled out an improbable 2-1 overtime victory at Joe Louis Arena to seize a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 Western Conference finals heading back to Anaheim for Game 6:
"They were terrible with the puck, they were terrible on the puck, they were terrible (on) positioning ... they were just terrible."
Fellow studio analyst Ray Ferraro chimed in, saying the Ducks "looked a step slow" and that he was "really surprised how Detroit was able to handle them physically."
Then Hull added another zinger.
"If I was Detroit, I would not be worried about being down, 3-2, because they dominated," he said. "And they can go in and win (Game 6) and come home and win Game 7."
Perhaps Hull was upset the Ducks had made him look foolish, because after Scott Niedermayer's power-play goal tied the game in the final minute of regulation, Hull defiantly predicted the Red Wings would continue to dominate and win in overtime.
"In the biggest game of the season, and of the series, you can't show up for three periods?" Hull said derisively of the Ducks. "What makes you think they're going to show up in OT?"
Hull might also have been embarrassed because it was Selanne who scored the winning goal, unassisted, lifting a backhander over a fallen Dominik Hasek after a turnover in front of the Detroit net.
Ignoring that Selanne had the primary assist on Niedermayer's tying goal, this is what Hull said during the third intermission: "If you wonder why Teemu Selanne doesn't have anything going, it's because he has been terrible."
There's that word again.
Were the Ducks outplayed by the Red Wings in Game 5? Absolutely. They also were outplayed in Game 4 and still prevailed, 5-3. In the past two games, the Red Wings have outshot the Ducks, 39-23 and 37-26.
But good teams sometimes find a way to win when they're not in top form, and sometimes they take advantage of good breaks (e.g., Niedermayer's shot deflecting off Nicklas Lidstrom's stick into the net with 47 seconds left in regulation and a Lidstrom shot caroming off the post with nine minutes left in the third period). And sometimes a hot goaltender, such as Jean-Sebastien Giguere, can be the difference.
The only thing "terrible" about Game 5 was the studio analysis.
Another example was this exchange in the NBC studio after the game:
Bill Clement: "I jotted a list of questions while we were watching OT. Who was stronger on loose pucks in OT?"
Brett Hull and Ray Ferraro:
Clement: "Which (team) was better on the boards and oneon-one battles?"
Hull and Ferraro: "Detroit."
Clement: "Who had better puck movement?"
Hull and Ferraro: "Detroit."
Clement: "Who looked fresher?"
Hull and Ferraro: "Detroit."
Clement, smirking: "The Anaheim Ducks had 'em right where they wanted 'em, right?"
Very funny. Did the analysts realize the Ducks outshot the Red Wings, 8-3, in the 12 minutes of overtime?
Actually, I thought the Ducks outplayed the Red Wings in the extra period, even killing off a power play, but the only relevant number was on the scoreboard at game's end.
Are the Ducks one more "terrible" performance from advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals?
Slap shots: Giguere is now 12-1 in overtime games. Should we call him "Mr. May?"
Randy Carlyle's gutsy decision to pull Giguere with 1:47 left in the third period, to give the Ducks a six-on-four power play after Pavel Datsyuk went off for interference, was the strategy on which the game turned.
The road team has now won three of the five games in Western Conference finals.
Trash talk: NBC reporter Pierre McGuire, stationed between the two benches during the game, overheard this humorous exchange between Detroit's Dan Cleary and the Ducks' Todd Marchant, his former Edmonton teammate:
Cleary, noticing the cut on Marchant's nose: "You're not getting any prettier, Todd."
Marchant's retort: "Have you looked in the mirror lately?"
The call: From NBC game analyst Eddie Olcyzk, during a replay of Selanne's winning goal, which hit the roof of the net and dislodged Hasek's water bottle overhead: "Forehand, backhand nothing but water bottle!"
OC Register May 21, 2007
RED WINGS NOTES
Lilja's day full of highs, lows
THE DETROIT FREE PRESS
DETROIT Andreas Lilja described the emotion as one of "pure anger" after the Detroit Red Wings blew a late lead in a game they dominated until Teemu Selanne converted a turnover into a huge victory for the Ducks.
Lilja provided the Red Wings' only offense in a 2-1 overtime loss Sunday at Joe Louis Arena, but the euphoria of scoring his first career NHL playoff goal was dampened by being on for Selanne's winner. Lilja was attempting to carry the puck out of Detroit's zone when Andy McDonald rushed him; Lilja tried to get rid of the puck, but fanned on the pass, enabling Selanne to pounce on the puck and send a backhand shot past Dominik Hasek.
Lilja, a defenseman called upon to play more minutes in the playoffs because of the injuries to Mathieu Schneider and Niklas Kronwall, answered question after question about his goal and giveaway. In one short sentence, though, he summed up everything that happened for the Red Wings and himself in Game 5.
"It's a pretty short trip," Lilja said, "between a hero and disaster."
The Red Wings were within 47.3 seconds of a regulation victory before Scott Niedermayer scored after the Ducks pulled goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere at the start of a power play to gain two extra skaters. Niedermayer took a shot from the bottom of the left circle that hit Nicklas Lidstrom's stick before bouncing in over Hasek.
"I just tried to go down and block the shot and it went off my shaft," Lidstrom said. "That's the way it goes in the playoffs. If you're playing well you can still lose games and that's what happened. We just have to bounce back. You have to take the good things with you that we did and put the game behind us and get ready for Game 6."
Both Chris Chelios and Johan Franzen who threw his stick in disgust had flubbed attempts at clearing the puck.
It was the only time all game the Red Wings' penalty kill faltered. The Ducks spent 7:39 with the man-advantage during regulation, and during most of those minutes, the Wings didn't even let a shot get near Hasek. But while their penalty killers came through, the Wings' power play ebbed, going scoreless through 10:40 minutes in regulation, including a five-on-three stint.
Riverside Press-Enterprise May 21, 2007
The Puck Stops Here, with Ducks' Giguere
If the Ducks stole one from the Detroit Red Wings in Game 4 last Thursday, would Sunday's result be considered grand larceny?
They were horrendously outplayed for, oh, most of the afternoon. Anaheim was outshot 33-15 over the first 58 minutes, hemmed into its own territory for much of the day, alive only because Jean-Sebastien Giguere was playing like a Conn Smythe Trophy winner.
And now Giguere might actually be in line to win his second Conn Smythe. After all, you have to get to the Stanley Cup Finals to have a shot at the award given to the playoffs' outstanding performer.
We'll avoid the cliche about a masked man and a robbery. But isn't it obvious? Maybe instead of calling him J. S. we should just Anglicize his first name to Jesse, as in James.
If Giguere hadn't been as good as he was in the face of Detroit's sustained pressure, Scott Niedermayer wouldn't have been in position to tie the game with a power-play goal at 19:12 of the third period. Teemu Selanne wouldn't have been able to win it in overtime. And the Ducks wouldn't have an opportunity to close out the Red Wings on Tuesday night at Honda Center.
"It could have been 3-0 or 4-0," Chris Pronger said. "But he made the saves when he needed to, to keep us in the game. He gave us that chance, and we were fortunate enough to get it for him."
Which was the best sequence?
The back-to-back-to-back saves on Pavel Datsyuk, Kyle Quincey and Quincey again midway through the first period?