Hello Panther fans….
I’m heading back across the country, this time on the NHL’s charter flight from southern California to Ottawa for games three and four of the Stanley Cup Final. We’re actually flying from Ontario Airport in California to Ottawa, Ontario. Just a little trivia. Speaking of trivia, the first two games, both won by the Ducks, were the 49th and 50th one goal decisions in this year’s playoffs. The previous record for one goal games in one playoff year was 46. Here are some thoughts and observations:
- If I’m Anaheim, I feel good about the fact that we’ve outplayed Ottawa by a wide margin even though the scores have been close.
- If I’m Ottawa, I feel good about the fact that the scores have been close even though we’ve been outplayed by a wide margin.
- With the series shifting to Ottawa, Bryan Murray will have the last change which will enable him to get the matchups he wants. The matchup that has been so lopsided so far in this series has been the Pahlsson-Niedmayer-Moen line for the Ducks up against the Senators’ line of Spezza-Alfredsson-Heatley. Coming into this series, the big line for Ottawa had accumulated 23 goals and 58 points in 15 games and as a group were held without a goal in just one game. This is how these two lines have performed so far in this series:
| ||Pahlsson line ||Spezza line |
|Goals ||2 ||0 |
|Assists ||1 ||2* |
|Points ||3 ||2* |
|Shots ||20 ||11 |
|+/- ||+6 ||-6 |
*both power play assists
- Will the change in venue and getting Spezza’s line away from Pahlsson be enough to change the result for the Senators in game three? It’s hard to say because overall the Ducks have just dominated the five on five play. The Spezza line must be better, but other players on the Senators’ team must step up as well.
- Outside of the area around Honda Center, it’s hard to tell that the Stanley Cup Final is in town. There’s no doubt that the Anaheim franchise faces many of the same challenges that the Panthers face in south Florida. It’s not a “traditional” hockey market…the building is not in a downtown area…competition for the entertainment dollar is extremely competitive. Honda Center is literally down the street from both the Angels’ stadium and Disneyland. I’m sure the overall atmosphere in the Canadian capital city of Ottawa will be a stark contrast to what we’ve experienced in southern California.
- After game two, a few of the Ottawa players were asked about the officiating and the fact that Anaheim seems to be able to play a much more aggressive style than any other team the Senators have faced this season. In particular, Ottawa is concerned about the Ducks preventing them from getting to pucks that are dumped or chipped behind the defense. Anaheim holds the line better than any team I’ve seen and their “D” gets away with forcing the opposition to take the long route to loose pucks. Sometimes it’s subtle…sometimes it’s not. This is the same complaint that the Red Wings had in the Western Conference Final. The Senators haven’t been a team that likes to dump the puck in and Anaheim makes it difficult to play that way, but Ottawa has to get pucks in deep and use their speed…keep their feet moving when they hit some resistance…and perhaps draw some more penalties. Scoring on the power play may be the only way the Sens get back into this series.
- Teemu Selanne did a really cool thing for a bunch of his childhood buddies from Finland. Nearly 20 years ago when Teemu was drafted by Winnipeg, he told his friends that if he ever made it to the Stanley Cup Final that he would pay their way to fly over and attend a couple of games. Shortly after their win in the third round over Detroit, Teemu got a call reminding him of that promise long ago. Selanne picked up the tab for fifteen of his buddies including airfare, accommodations and tickets. They all showed up with matching orange t-shirts honoring Selanne and their unbridled passion for the sport of hockey. I asked Teemu if they were going to Ottawa as well and he said they’re scheduled to go back on Friday…unless southern California runs out of beer before then! Somehow, I wouldn’t be surprised if they showed up at Scotiabank Place on Saturday for game three!
That’s all for now. I’ll have more after game four.