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Two teams seek first Stanley Cup

EDGEEDGEEDGEEDGEEDGEEDGEIce chips- No European-born captain has won the Cup.

By TOM JONES
Published May 27, 2007


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Ice chips

- No European-born captain has won the Cup. That will change if the Senators win and Daniel Alfredsson, a native of Gothenburg, Sweden, is handed the Cup.

- Anaheim's Rob and Scott Niedermayer are the first brothers to appear in the final as teammates since Rich and Ron Sutter with the Flyers in 1985. The last brothers to win a Cup together were, of course, Sutters - Brent and Duane in 1983 with the Islanders. (Advice: If you ever get an NHL trivia question involving brothers, always guess "Sutter Brothers.")

- Senators backup goalie Martin Gerber is the lucky charm. He has played four seasons and been to the final three times - with three teams: Anaheim in 2003, Carolina last season and now with Ottawa. Oh, and during the lockout season (2004-05), he went to Europe and won a league championship.

For the first time since 1999, two teams that have never won a Stanley Cup will meet in the final. Come on, work with us here. We're trying to drum up interest. The Ottawa-Anaheim matchup, which begins Monday in Anaheim, isn't, on the surface, the most exciting showdown in Cup history. But there is plenty to get you excited. There are lots of stars, such as Anaheim's Teemu Selanne and Chris Pronger and Ottawa's Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson. There are a few "characters, " such as Ottawa goalie Ray Emery. There should be drama, considering the teams are so well-matched even if they aren't well-known. Staff writer Tom Jones breaks down the Ottawa-Anaheim final. Do yourself a favor and watch it. You'll be glad you did.

Who has the edge?

Goaltending

No one was sure Ottawa's Ray Emery had what it took to get this far. But he has been impressive, recording a shutout in each round so far. But Anaheim's Jean-Sebastien Giguere appears totally immune to pressure. He is an incredible 12-1 in postseason overtime in his career.

Offense

The Senators lead the playoffs with 3.07 goals per game. They are talented and deep. (Eleven forwards have scored). The Ducks, led by rejuvenated Teemu Selanne, are talented but not quite as deep.

Defense

The dynamic duo of Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer gives Anaheim the nod. And the Ducks' forwards might be a tad more responsible defensively, particularly the line of Samuel Pahlsson, Rob Niedermayer and Travis Moen, which will be matched against Ottawa's top line whenever possible.

Special teams

In the playoffs, special teams take on extra importance. And typically, great penalty-killers shut down great power plays. The Senators have allowed just nine power-play goals in the playoffs on 79 chances. They gave up only 2 in 29 chances against Buffalo in the East final.

Coaching

Ottawa's Bryan Murray has been a successful coach and GM, but this is his first trip to the final in his 17 seasons behind the bench. Could there be something to wanting it too bad? Anaheim's Randy Carlyle is a no-nonsense coach in tune with his players. This is a toss-up, but Murray does have more experience.

Intangibles

The Senators have rarely been in trouble this postseason. They've never trailed in a series and are 7-3 in one-goal games. The Ducks haven't had much problem either, but it just seems like it's Ottawa's time. The Senators have the look of a team that's going to win it all.

Tom Jones' prediction: Senators in six.

1. It means more to Ottawa. Come on, it's Canada. Sure, the Ducks have fans, but people in Canada live and breathe this stuff. It's not hockey. It's life. And Canada hasn't had a Cup winner since Montreal in 1993.

2. Ray Emery. The Senators goalie is a certified nut job. But in a good way. He once won a bet with teammates by eating a cockroach and then used the money for an elaborate tattoo. He has Mike Tyson painted on his mask. His off-the-ice wardrobe makes Dennis Rodman envious. Any time a free spirit like that is involved, we're pulling for him.

3. It's their time. The Senators have made the playoffs 10 consecutive seasons. And they've done it the right way by building through the draft and trades. They deserve to have the ultimate success.

Three reasons to root for Ottawa

1. Randy Carlyle. For a good stretch in the 1980s, the Anaheim coach was one of the best defensemen in hockey. (He played in four All-Star games and won the 1981 Norris Trophy.) But he played for awful teams in Pittsburgh and Winnipeg. It would be nice to see him win.

2. It might help the NHL. Hockey is wildly popular in Ottawa. Always will be whether the Senators win or not. But to have a team from Southern California win could turn the all-important Los Angeles market into a hockey town. That would be huge for the NHL.

3. It means Ottawa wouldn't. Admit it, Lightning fans. You love having the fact that your team has something over your 1992 expansion cousins. Plus, Ottawa owns the Lightning and knocked it out of last year's playoffs.

Three reasons to root for Anaheim

Best line

Actually, the best line ever about hockey was, "I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out." Ah, the good old days when goons were goons and hockey was not for the faint of heart. Long gone are those times. Now it's all about factors such as finesse, dekes and five-on-three power plays. But we digress.

Back to the point. Best line. In this series, that would be Ottawa's top unit of Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and captain Daniel Alfredsson. The three have combined for 23 goals and 35 assists. Heatley has points in 13 of 15 playoffs games, while Spezza and Alfredsson have points in 12 of 15.

Best defensemen

Well, the thing is, Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom is the best. And no kidding, he might be one of the 10 best players ever. But that's an argument for another day. After Lidstrom, it might be Anaheim's Chris Pronger. If not Pronger, then Scott Niedermayer. He plays for Anaheim, too. It's rare that one or the other isn't on the ice. Both do everything extremely well.

The cities

Actually, neither really seems to play in a city at all. The Ducks play in Orange County, which is kind of like a bunch of Dale Mabrys crisscrossing one another. Think strip malls and sports bars. Then there's Ottawa, which doesn't play in Ottawa, but a place called Kanata, a 30-minute drive from Ottawa. Think a hockey rink and sports bars. At least downtown Ottawa is pretty cool.

Best local attraction

Anaheim does have Disneyland. That's pretty cool. Ottawa has the Rideau Canal, which freezes over and becomes the best skating rink in the world. And that's really cool. In fact, people skate to work. The difference is Disney is open all year long. We wouldn't advise trying to skate to Rideau at this time of year.

Famous people

You would think there would be more celebrities from Anaheim than Ottawa because Anaheim is so close to Los Angeles. But Ottawa has an impressive list of famous people: Dan Aykroyd, left, Paul Anka, singer Bruce Cockburn, Lorne Greene, Rich Little, Alanis Morrisette, Tom Green and, well we have to throw one hockey guy in here, Steve Yzerman. Then again, Orange County is impressive, too: Steve Martin, right, Will Ferrell, Michelle Pfeiffer, Diane Keaton, Bonnie Raitt, Gwen Stefani and Jeff Buckley.

Ducks vs. Senators

* If necessary

Monday

at Anaheim, 8, Versus
Wed. at Anaheim, 8, Versus
Saturday at Ottawa, 8, Ch. 8
June 4 at Ottawa, 8, Ch. 8
June 6 at Anaheim, 8 , Ch. 8*
June 9 at Ottawa, 8, Ch. 8*
June 11 at Anaheim, 8, Ch. 8*