Hey Dallas Stars fans, it's Brett Hull here. I'm back with my next installment of Brett's Bites -- my weekly take on the Stars, and anything hockey. This week I talk about the Stanley Cup Finals between the Anaheim Ducks and the Ottawa Senators.
Answers to Fan Questions:What do you think about the two teams playing for the Stanley Cup the Ottawa Senators and the Anaheim Ducks? What will be the deciding factors on who wins?
Ottawa needs to find a way to muster up a road win. What you saw in Anaheim was 180 degrees from what the team you saw in Ottawa in Game Three. It's human nature to be better at home, but they need to find something on the road because they don't have home ice. They need to take advantage of Pronger getting suspended and even this series tonight. This is obviously a big game. Giguere of Anaheim usually plays very well after he gives up four so Ottawa will have their hands full tonight. Anaheim needs to stop self-destructing. One of my favorite sayings is that the sign of intelligence is learning from your mistakes and a few of them don't seem to do that very well. They need to stay out of the penalty box and get back to the way they play the game because they're a better team.
You were talking about the need for Ottawa to play better on the road in order to win this series. What do you think goes into teams playing better at home rather on the road?
There is an intimidation factor and some guys are just more comfortable at home. They get mentally intimidated by the noise of the crowd and don't play as well. Throughout history though, you see all the best teams play very well on the road.
What were your thoughts on the league's decision to suspend Chris Pronger for Game Four for his elbow to the head of Dean McAmmond in Game Three?
It's a double-edged sword. I really don't have a problem with the league suspending him, but at the same time I do have a problem with him being suspended. Yes it was a blow to the head, but he wasn't intending on hitting him in the head. Pronger didn't take his elbow and throw it forward to close-line McAmmond. McAmmond tried to get around Pronger and he ducked and that is one of the reasons he got hit in the head. Pronger's elbow is 6-6 and McAmmond is 5-10 and that was part of it too. If I thought he was intentionally trying to elbow him and hurt him, I wouldn't have a problem with the suspension but I don't think he was. However, it was a blow to the head no matter how you slice it and we are trying to get that out of the game. It's a very hard call. I don't know. It's the Stanley Cup Finals and when I went to the morning skate today, Dean McAmmond was out skating and might play tonight. The NHL says that they don't suspend the injury, they suspend the attempt or action. Brian Burke has a good point though when he says that Chris Neil is trying to kill Andy McDonald out there and although McDonald got out of the way, Neil was trying to get him good.
Anaheim defeated Detroit in Game Four of the Conference Finals by a 5-3 final and played extremely well without Pronger. Why does it seem like some teams play better when they're missing their best players?
I know I keep saying it, but it's human nature. As a player, you have a guy that is really relied on to make all the plays and you sit there and you say in your own mind that you have two guys back there to help your time in Pronger and Niedermayer and you believe you are fine. You say things like, "The other team is going to have a tough time scoring on us", or "They're going to shutdown the top line". However, when he's not there, you think, "I have to pick it up and do my job even better now". The coach may come in too and say that he wants the team to simplify the game because this player isn't in there. Also, with a guy like Giguere in net for Anaheim, he can steal games and knows it's his time to shine and he was the reason they won Game Four against Detroit. What did you think about the call to allow Daniel Alfredsson's power play goal late in the second period that tied the game in Game Three (it was reviewed to see if it was kicked in)?
Terrible call and terrible rule. If I can sit with Bill Clement in the NBC Studios and argue about the call, then it's a bad rule. To me, he intended on kicking the puck in the net and that means it should be no goal. There are many reasons to kick the puck in the net. You don't have to just kick at it like Adam Vinaterri would. The rule should be that you can score in any way you want, as long as you are not using your hands. If you punch it in or throw it in, it would be no goal. Otherwise, you can score anyway you want.
Who is your prediction to win the Conn Smythe?
You have all the press people making that call and they don't really know. It's not over yet, but you do have a number of candidates. Pronger has lost his chance after putting his team behind the eight ball twice now. There is talk about Rob Niedermayer and Sami Pahlsson, but you shouldn't win the Conn Smythe for being good defensively, unless you add other things like scoring. Bob Gainey won the Conn Smythe, and he was fantastic defensively but also scored several huge goals. To me, it's Giguere for Anaheim and Emery for Ottawa.
Most of Dallas Stars fans know about the Anaheim Ducks and what makes them so good. What about the Senators? What makes Ottawa such a good team?
Ottawa has a good balance attack with Fisher and Neil, as complimentary players to Alfredsson, Spezza and Heatley. They also have solid defensemen. But I just don't think they are as good as Anaheim because they aren't as tough, they aren't as big and they aren't as physical. They also had a much easier road to the Finals than Anaheim did. They are a good team with good players, but there is something missing with them that makes me question. I think they're still missing a power play defensemen, somebody who can run a power play on the point. They also need more of a skilled-set on their second line.
Will there be a Game Seven in this series?
No, there won't be a Game Seven. I doubt there will even be a Game Six.