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NHL

Sarich saw coach's rise coming

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published June 8, 2003

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Cory Sarich is not surprised at Anaheim's success under rookie coach Mike Babcock. The Lightning defenseman played for him as part of Team Canada at the 1997 World Junior Championships.

"I figured he'd do well if he had a shot," Sarich said. "He was all business. He's a guy you could get along with. He stressed work ethic. He had guys firing on all cylinders. You feared him but you respected him. He had a good edge to his approach."

The approach worked as Canada won the gold medal, beating the United States 2-0 in the final. "He came in there and he got everybody to mesh well and got them going," Sarich said. "He had everybody playing as a team. The same things happened with the Ducks. I can't get over how quickly he's turned them around."

Sarich said he is rooting for the Ducks because Babcock is a fellow Saskatchewan native.

Considering the Devils defeated Tampa Bay in the East semifinals, Sarich was asked why it would not be better for New Jersey to win so the Lightning could say it was beaten by the Stanley Cup champions.

"The heck with that," Sarich said. "I'm also rooting for (Babcock) because the Devils beat us."

R & R: The Devils did not have their usual morning skate, and did not skate Friday after flying in from New Jersey.

Coach Pat Burns said he was not worried about the relative lack of physical activity, especially considering Saturday's 5 p.m. start on the West Coast would have made the turnaround from a 10:30 a.m. skate difficult.

"Rest is very important," he said. "It's not only a one-man decision. We sit down and all talk about it."

Defenseman Brian Rafalski said morning skates are overrated.

"What are you going to do, improve this time of year?" he said. "I prefer to save my energy for the games."

AS FOR THE DUCKS: They skated at 9:30 a.m.

"If I would have had the ice at 9, I would have loved to skate," Burns said.

But the coach said the home team must give the visitors permission to skate first.

"I doubt very much they would have given us that option," Burns said. "I know I wouldn't."

JOE ON THE BENCH (AGAIN): Center Joe Nieuwendyk, the Devils' best player during the East final against the Senators and New Jersey's best faceoff man, hoped to play and warmed up beforehand but his hip/groin injury remained too painful.

"I don't want to be a liability out there," Nieuwendyk said. "It would be a lot more difficult if I didn't feel part of it. But the guys have treated me unbelievably. If we do win, I'll be out there on the ice with them and I'll still enjoy it just as much."

QUOTABLE: "I can remember coming around a corner too fast and running into a deer. That's exactly what we looked like three times in New Jersey, like that deer in the headlights when I was about to hit it." - Babcock on Anaheim's difficulties at Continental Airlines Arena.

ODDS AND ENDS: Devils goalie Martin Brodeur was pulled in the third period after allowing five goals on 22 shots. Brodeur said it was his decision. "We don't want me to get hurt in a stupid play or something like that," he said. ... Home teams have won all six games in the series. ... ... Even after giving up two power-play goals Saturday the Devils have killed off 51 of 56 short-handed situations, or 91.1 percent, in the playoffs.

[Last modified June 8, 2003, 01:33:29]

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