Monday, May 28, 2007

Last, but not least: the Anaheim Ducks

Alright folks, here's your Sens Army Official 2007 Stanley Cup Final Series Preview, so buckle up:

This series marks the first Stanley Cup Final between two 90s-era expansion teams, and it sure looks like it will be a battle of the titans. A lot of professionals (and amateurs, no doubt) picked one or both of these two teams to face-off in the Stanley Cup Final, and now it's finally happened. I'm still in disbelief this time has actually come, so maybe it's not the best time to go over the series, but I'm going to anyway.

The key to this series, for Anaheim, is shutting down Spalfredheat. That has also been the key for Pittsburgh, New Jersey, and Buffalo, but they haven't been able to. The only game in which that line didn't score a goal was the Sens' Game-Five loss to Buffalo. So who know what will happen is Chris Pronger or Scott Niedermayer (whoever plays against them) can keep them quiet?

For Ottawa, the problem will be finding a way around the big D of Anaheim, and then beating Jean-Sebastien Giguere. It has been said that Giguere has trouble moving side-to-side, and so the Senators must use their speed and passing to take advantage of that. As for the a lot of the defencemen, Ottawa will have to play their game wherever possible. If Christoph Schubert and Chris Neil, to name a few, are able to punish the defence, and Ottawa forwards are able to use their speed against slower D (Pronger and Francois Beauchemin), there is automatically an advantage that will add to the short bench that Anaheim employs.

One thing is certain: special teams will play a key role in this series. They always do. And while Anaheim had better numbers on both powerplay and penalty-kill in the regular season, Ottawa's running away with the playoffs. The Sens have a 20 per cent success rate on the PP, compared to 15.3 for the Ducks, and Ottawa has killed off 88.6 per cent of short-handed situations, against 87.5 for Anaheim.

Another key factor, of course, is depth scoring. If somehow the Ducks do find a way to keep Spalfredheat quiet, then Ottawa second- and third-liners including Mike Fisher, Peter Schaefer, Mike Comrie, Antoine Vermette, and Neil will need to step it up. I'm going to highlight Schaefer and Comrie especially, for really having slowed down (although Comrie did have a good first round). I'm also going to exempt Chris Kelly from that call-out, because he has so many other contributions (penalty killing, peer-interviewee, empty-net-goal scoring) for the team. On the other side of the coin, Anaheim has been dipping into their second line for scoring all year, and that will half to continue.

Finally, what factor will fatigue play? Steve Simmons, of the Toronto Sun as well as TSN's The Reporters, called the Ducks' roster “the shortest bench in hockey”; will that have a cumulative effect after a long regular season and a couple of playoff rounds? Probably. Especially when it's combined with the fact that these teams will be so screwed up after all the time-zone changes.

Regular Season:

Anaheim finished second overall in the West, three points behind Detroit with a 48-20-14 record for 110 points. Ottawa finished fourth in the East (48W, 25L, 9OTL, 105P).


Ottawa: 15GP, 12W, 3L, 48GF, 31GA
Emery: 15GP, 1.95GAA, 0.919SP, 3SO

  1. Heatley: 15GP, 6G, 15A, 21P
  2. Spezza: 15GP, 7G, 13A, 20P
  3. Alfredsson: 15GP, 10G, 7A, 17P
  4. Redden: 15GP, 2G, 6A, 8P
  5. Corvo: 15GP, 2G, 6A, 8P

Anaheim: 16GP, 12W, 4L, 42GF, 34GA
Giguere: 13GP, 1.87GAA, 0.931SP, 0SO

  1. Pronger: 15GP, 3G, 11A, 14P
  2. Getzlaf: 16GP, 5G, 8A, 13P
  3. Selanne: 16GP, 5G, 7A, 12P
  4. Pahlsson: 16GP, 2G, 8A, 10P
  5. Perry: 16GP, 4G, 5A, 9P
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