I must delay the previous report because of an urgent message...
THE ANAHEIM DUCKS WILL INDEED PLAY AGAINST THE OTTAWA SENATORS IN THE STANLEY CUP FINAL!!!!!!!!!!!!
Now, for an analysis, please stand-by....
Stanley Cup Final
Anaheim Ducks (2 in West) vs. Ottawa Senators (4 in East)
Prediction- Ottawa Senators in 7 games
These two teams present an interesting story. One, the Ducks, have been expected to dominate all year, starting from the acquisition of Chris Pronger last summer. Most picked them to win the Stanley Cup in the pre-season, mid-season, end-of-season, and mid-post-season. On the other hand, the Senators, always a strong regular season teams, had no more expectations than the usual. Blow every one's mind in the regular season, and then flop out and disappoint in the post-season. That has changed.
Anaheim (2)- The Ducks are in for a new challenge. Defeating Minnesota involved snuffing out the top scoring line, and then throwing in a couple of goals to finish it off. Bumping off Vancouver meant snuffing out the top two offensive guys, and finding a way to beat a defensive minded team. Manhandling Detroit required some timely plays and stopping the forwards before they got to the defensive zone. See a pattern? While I am in no way saying that the Ducks don't have speed and skill (hello youth line), they haven't had to use it so much as stuff in a puck or two and shut down the other guys.
But against Ottawa, it could be a different story. Had things gone by the names when Buffalo played Ottawa, it would have been Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman shutting down the nameless line, while any of the top three lines would pile in goal after goal. Not so. Not only did Ottawa prove to have scoring depth (Mike Fisher and Mike Comrie come to mind), the top line also made Tallinder and Lydman exhausted by playing an end-to-end game and then passing smoother than seemingly possible for a great play.
Now, it's up to Randy Carlyle to make a tough choice. Play Pronger and Niedermayer together, and have them completely shut down the "nameless line" while leaving Francois Beauchemin and Sean O'Donnell to deal with the depth? Or will he keep going with what he's done (Pronger and O'Donnell, Niedermayer and Beauchemin) and cross his fingers. Will Teemu Selanne, Andy McDonald, and Chris Kunitz really turn it on, or will all the pressure be on Ryan Getzlaf, Dustin Penner, and Corey Perry? Will J.S. Giguere forget some of his shaky moments, and push for another Conn Smythe? Or will his game go down the drain, and cause the Ducks to turn in favor of Ilya Bryzgalov? Basically, will it all work? Sorry Anaheim fans, but you've got a lot of questions.
Ottawa (4)- Then again, who's saying that the Sens don't? Will the top line of Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, and Daniel Alfreddson be able to keep up their torrid pace against two Norris trophy nominees? Will Mike Fisher and his group of "the other Ottawa forwards" keep up their surprising offensive support? Can Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips keep Ray Emery from getting pelted with shot after shot? Can Ray Emery stop whatever shots get through? We all need answers.
GAME KEYS: It all comes down to who can shut down the top offensive line. If Pronger and Niedermayer can shut down the "nameless line", then the pair of Volchenkov and Phillips can't stop both the "youth line" and the (hmm, what should I call them) "TAC line." But if Phillips and Volchenkov manage to slow down one of those, and Wade Redden and Andrej Meszaros can provide at least some defense against the other, then the "nameless line" should deliver.
However, this is the Stanley Cup Final. Here, a man known for defense can score myriad goals, and even the least defensive player can block a shot and save the game. Here, players will get injured terribly, but keep playing because of a want for the ultimate goal. The STANLEY CUP!
Some good pics from Ottawa's Stanley Cup journey so far.
Not actually from this year's playoffs for the Ducks, but still a good video.
I finally posted a video! It's been so long..... speaking of which, so long! I've got to head out.