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WHO WILL IT BE -- Sens or Ducks?

by Staff Writer / New York Islanders
Friends of Islanders Country predict the Anaheim-Ottawa Stanley Cup Final

Hockey fans are gearing up for what looks to be like a high-flying Stanley Cup Final beginning Monday night on VERSUS. The Anaheim Ducks are hoping to raise Lord Stanley's Cup for the first time in their 14-year history. They've returned to the Final for the second time in four years behind strong play from the "Titans On Defense," Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer.

The Ottawa Senators, meanwhile, are trying to claim the title in the modern era after winning the Stanley Cup ten times between 1893 and 1934 with its original franchise. If Ottawa overcomes Anaheim, Daniel Alfredssson will become the league's first European-born captain to lead his team to Stanley Cup glory.

Below are Stanley Cup Final predictions of some expert prognosticators from within and outside the organization. Let the debate begin!

Chris King
Bloomberg 1130 Radio Color Commentator

Ottawa in 6
"I just really feel it is Ottawa's time to win, after suffering so many devastating playoff losses in recent years. They say you have to go through tough losses before you are ready to win it all (just look back at the Isles' crushing playoff losses to the Leafs in '78 and Rangers in '79 before winning 4 straight Cups). The Senators have been the best team in the playoffs so far. They have the hot CASH line up front, a big and strong defense, and a power play that will really hurt the Ducks if Anaheim continues to take bad penalties. Goaltending experience might be the only area where the Ducks have the edge. The Cup has not been won by a team from Canada since Montreal beat the Isles in the 1993 conference finals and then topped the Kings to get their rings, but I think this is the year Lord Stanley finally gets to go back north of the border."

Greg Logan
Islanders Newsday Beat Writer

Ottawa in 7
"I made a pick on Islanders breakup day back on April 22. It was Ottawa over Anaheim in the Finals. I'm not going to change now, although you have to be very impressed with the way the Ducks handled a hot and offensively explosive Detroit team. I think the difference is that Ottawa has the physical edge necessary to match the Ducks, and while Ray Emery doesn't have the same credentials as Jean-Sebastien Giguere, he's playing the best hockey of his life. Then, Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson have played like the big-time scorers they are throughout this Stanley Cup run. As great as the Ducks' defensive duo of Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer might be, I have a feeling the Senators have enough answers to scratch out a Cup victory in 7 games."

Billy Jaffe
MSG/FSN NY Color Commentator

Anaheim in 7
"I think Anaheim's defensive structure and experience on the blue line are enormous. Also, their goaltending is better. I like Ray Emery and his winner attitude, but he has not been challenged in the playoffs. Giguere has been to the Finals before. Plus, Niedermayer has won Cups, Pronger has played in a Finals series, so the Ducks have the experience factor. Up front, I do like the depth of Ottawa a little bit more. However, I think that Anaheim will match the physical play of the Senators. If Anaheim plays crazy and overzealous like they have at times in the playoffs, then they're going to be in trouble because Ottawa's power play is very good. But I thought the West was better all year long, better teams, and therefore I'm going to still stick with the Western team."

Stan Fischler
MSG/FSN NY Hockey Analyst

Ottawa in 4
"I've watched the Senators closely when they beat the Devils and Buffalo. My feeling is that the Ottawa forwards can take on Pronger and Niedermayer. Also, I don't think Giguere in goal can handle Ottawa's forwards. My only concern for Ottawa is their crazy goalie, Emery, but he's played well in these playoffs. I like Ottawa's head coach Bryan Murray, and he's got his guys motivated. The Senators aren't just a skilled team. They have some big guys who don't back down from anyone."

Bruno Gervais
Islanders Defenseman

Anaheim in 7
"The Ducks generally play with only four defensemen, but with the long break between series, they'll get plenty of rest. The Senators forwards are going to have a tough challenge against Pronger and Niedermayer. Ottawa has gone up against some high-powered teams, but nothing like Anaheim. It's going to be much tougher for the Senators' big line to score. On the flip side, the Anaheim forwards are quick and Ray Emery is going to have a tough time."

John Kreiser Columnist

Ottawa in 6
"I've had my eye on Ottawa since the All-Star break. Management did a good job not panicking after a slow start, and the Senators came together and got hot at the right time. They have the best line in the league in Jason Spezza between Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley. None of the Sens' three Eastern Conference opponents could slow this trio down, and I don't think Anaheim will, either. The Senators have the size and speed to cope with Anaheim's platoons of big young forwards. The harder part will be dealing with the Ducks' dynamic duo of Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger on defense. J-S Giguere won the Detroit series for the Ducks and is playing for a new contract. A Stanley Cup on his resume would go nicely with the Conn Smythe Trophy he won in 2003. But Anaheim doesn't score much, and the loss of Chris Kunitz (broken arm) from the first line will hurt. The Ducks' penalty-killing also stumbled against Detroit, allowing nine goals in six games. I wonder if there are any Ottawa fans around from the last time the Senators won the Cup!"

David Kolb Hockey Columnist

Anaheim in 7
"Being that the top five stars with Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer matched up against the Dany Heatley/Jason Spezza/Daniel Alfredsson line figure to be on the ice simultaneously, the stars will cancel each other out to some degree. Therefore the fate of the Stanley Cup will rest in the hands of the second and third liners – along with goaltending. That being said, the Ducks are stronger and faster up front, and have the playoffs' hottest goaltender in J.S. Giguere."

Stanley Cup Final Schedule
Game 1:  May 28 @ Anaheim – 8 p.m. ET, Versus
Game 2:  May 30 @ Anaheim – 8 p.m. ET, Versus
Game 3:  June 2 @ Ottawa – 8 p.m. ET, NBC
Game 4:  June 4 @ Ottawa – 8 p.m. ET, NBC
*Game 5:  June 6 @ Anaheim – 8 p.m. ET, NBC
*Game 6:  June 9 @ Ottawa – 8 p.m. ET, NBC
*Game 7:  June 11 @ Anaheim – 8 p.m. ET, NBC

* if necessary
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