NHL News and Notes June - 2

NHL News and Notes June - 2

Hockey Today - June 2
Sat, Jun 2, 2007
By Associated Press

SCOREBOARD Saturday, June 2

Anaheim at Ottawa (8 p.m. EDT). The Senators will have home-ice advantage as they try to bounce back from an 0-2 series deficit.

HIGH-POWER LINE

Samuel Pahlsson, Rob Niedermayer and Travis Moen are doing their job in shutting down the Senators' top line. In two games, Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza have been limited to a combined 11 shots and two assists - a considerable drop-off for a trio that had produced 23 of Ottawa's 48 goals through the first three playoff rounds. Also, Moen scored the winning goal in Anaheim's 3-2 victory in Game 1, and Pahlsson produced the lone goal in a 1-0 win on Wednesday.

REUNITED

The NHL will pay tribute to members of the league's greatest dynasty before Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals on Saturday. Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard, Dickie Moore, Tom Johnson, Jean-Guy Talbot and Don Marshall will be on hand as part of a select group of 12 Montreal Canadiens who played for each of the record-setting five straight Stanley Cup-winning teams from 1956-60.

SIGNED

Carolina re-signed defenseman Glen Wesley to a one-year, $1.4 million contract Friday. Wesley, who will return for a 13th season with the franchise, is the last original player from the 1997-98 squad - the first in North Carolina for the former Hartford Whalers - and ranks second in franchise history with 835 games played. ... Forward Matthew Lombardi signed a three-year contract extension with Calgary. Lombardi comes off a breakout season with career highs in goals (20) and assists (26) in 81 games this season.

RESIGNED

The NHL's Players' Association accepted senior director Ken Kim's resignation Friday. Kim and former executive director Ted Saskin, whom the NHLPA executive board voted unanimously to fire on May 10, were put on paid leaves in March following allegations they read players' e-mails.

SPEAKING

''He thinks he's from Red Deer.'' - Anaheim GM Brian Burke on the determination of checking-line forward Samuel Pahlsson.

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Re: NHL News and Notes June - 2

Ducks' Pahlsson has Senators on their heels
June 2, 2007

OTTAWA (AP) -Anaheim Ducks forward Samuel Pahlsson was born in Sweden, plays with the edge of an Alberta farm kid and has the Ottawa Senators on their heels.

And the only one shocked by the sudden acclaim he's receiving is Pahlsson himself.

``I don't think my season has been very different from before,'' he said following practice Friday. ``It's just people started talking and it just keeps going.''

In large part because of Pahlsson's solid defensive play and clutch goal-scoring, the Ducks are up 2-0 in the Stanley Cup finals with a chance to put a stranglehold on the best-of-seven series when it resumes Saturday at Ottawa.

The Senators are well aware of how the Pahlsson-led checking line has contained them, but confident they'll turn things around, hosting their first playoff game in 17 days and Ottawa's first Cup final game in 80 years.

``They're doing a good job of neutralizing us right now,'' forward Jason Spezza said. ``But we're not playing as well as we can.''

Not even close.

The Senators have been outhit, outshot 63-36, haven't produced an even-strength goal and look nothing like the high-flying, confident team that lost only three games through the first three rounds.

Spezza's line has been particularly stymied, combining for just 11 shots and registering two assists after producing 23 of 48 goals in the first three rounds. Worse still, they're not getting nearly enough production from their second and third lines.

``We've got to realize the situation we're in and we've got to be desperate,'' second-line center Mike Fisher said. ``We can't hang our heads and loll around about being down 2-0. We've just got to do something about it.''

Pahlsson and linemates Rob Niedermayer and Travis Moen have had a large role in putting the Senators in a hole. Besides playing a near-perfect defensive game, the line's produced both decisive goals, including Pahlsson's score in a 1-0 win in Game 2 on Wednesday.

Two of Pahlsson's three goals this postseason have been game-winners, and his 11 points in 18 games match the number he had in his previous 37 playoff appearances.

Ducks general manager Brian Burke paid Pahlsson the ultimate compliment for a European-born player.

``He thinks he's from Red Deer,'' said Burke, making the point that Pahlsson plays with the edge of a Canadian prairie farm kid.

Pahlsson might never have been to Red Deer or be able to find the central Alberta town on a map, but he certainly gets the drift.

``Yeah, I've heard it a lot of times,'' Pahlsson said. ``I guess it's a good thing. I kind of know what he means.''

It means that the fifth-year NHL veteran has arrived as a key contributor. He's already a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, awarded to the NHL's top defensive forward in the regular season, and now there's talk of Pahlsson emerging as a playoff MVP contender.

``I wouldn't think about it,'' Pahlsson said. ``It's all about winning two more games for us, and nothing else matters.''

Two more wins and the Ducks would become the first West Coast team to win the Cup since British Columbia's Victoria Cougars of the Western Canada Hockey League won in 1925.

The Senators' chances of returning the Cup to Canada for the first time since Montreal won in 1993 rest on whether they can get a boost at home.

``We feel we can be a lot better, and I feel playing at home is going to bring that out of us,'' captain Daniel Alfredsson said. ``We fought a lot of adversity throughout the year, and I think the way we responded makes me comfortable going into (Game 3).''

The Senators dropped four of their first six games in the regular season and were 7-11-1 before a spurt in which they won eight of nine. Their two losses to Anaheim marked the first time they've lost consecutive games in regulation since late December.

This kind of trouble is a whole different issue, though.

``There's always adversities through every series,'' Alfredsson said. ``Our approach now is Game 3. That's the biggest game of the year for us.

``Everybody has got to go out there and play their best. Don't look too far ahead, don't look at what's happening in the previous rounds or games.''

The Ducks are attempting to stay in the present, too.

``You can't get caught up. It's only Game 3,'' defenseman Chris Pronger said. ``To start looking too far ahead, that's when you get into trouble. You've got to worry about the task at hand, that's Game 3 and coming out prepared and focused.''

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Re: NHL News and Notes June - 2

Kunitz still unlikely to play for Ducks
June 1, 2007
Associated Press

OTTAWA -- Anaheim Ducks left winger Chris Kunitz continues to skate and work out, he just isn't ready to play in the Stanley Cup finals.

Kunitz had surgery in mid-May after he broke a bone in his right hand during Game 1 of the Western Conference finals at Detroit. He was all but ruled out for the rest of the playoffs, but his presence still leaves the door open that he might be able to help Anaheim at some point against the Ottawa Senators.

"I haven't talked to the doctors, but I think it's doubtful because of the situation with his hand," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said Friday on the eve of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals. "I saw him in the training room trying to get some adjustment made and whatnot.

"So I would still say until we get clearance from a doctor, and that's first and foremost, then the decision has to be whether he's in game shape or his hand is this or that. But at this point we're nowhere near that."

Kunitz had a goal and five assists in the Ducks' first 11 playoff games before the injury. He had 25 goals and 35 assists during his second full NHL regular season.


NOSE OUT OF JOINT: Senators forward Mike Comrie's nose is fine, but he's still not happy after being bloodied by an elbow from Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin in the third period of Game 2 on Wednesday.

"It was a dirty play," Comrie said, describing how he was without the puck along the boards in the Anaheim zone when he was caught flush in the face. "I turned into him, but you still have to be conscious of the play. The puck wasn't around."

Beauchemin wasn't penalized on the play. Comrie, meanwhile, missed a couple of shifts while trainers attended to his bloody nose.


DON'T TREAD ON ME: With the increased number of reporters in attendance, the Senators have taken to protecting their logo that's printed on the red carpet in the team's locker room.

The Senators previously had a staff member stop anyone from stepping on the logo. On Friday, the team put up two tension barriers to block access to the middle of the room.

"Makes my job easier," a Senators staff member said.


COLD DRAFT: Back in 1993, the Ottawa Senators had the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft and a chance to take big defenseman Chris Pronger.

They decided to go with enigmatic forward Alexandre Daigle instead. It is safe to say they wish they could get a do-over on that one.

Daigle came to the Senators in their second season in the NHL when he was only 18. Expected to be the big-time scorer he was in junior hockey, Daigle never blossomed and got swallowed up in Ottawa.

He played parts of five seasons with the Senators before being traded to Philadelphia in 1998. Daigle bounced around to Tampa Bay and the New York Rangers and then retired after the 1999-2000 season.

He came back with Pittsburgh after a two-year absence, splitting time in the AHL. He moved to Minnesota and posted 20 goals and 31 assists in the season before the lockout. When he came back to the Wild, he turned into a part-time player and netted five goals and 28 points last season.

The now 32-year-old Daigle played in the Swiss Elite League this season and expects to be back there in the fall. All in all, Daigle has 129 goals and 198 assists in 616 NHL games. He never came close to the Stanley Cup finals, appearing in only 12 career playoff games.

On the flip side, Pronger -- chosen No. 2 by Hartford -- is in the finals for the second straight year after getting there with Edmonton in 2006. He is tied for the team lead in the playoffs with 14 points, and is a finalist for the Norris Trophy, given to the NHL's best defenseman in the regular season, an award he won in 2000 with St. Louis -- the same year he was the MVP of the league.

"Funny how things work out, eh?" Pronger said with a smile and laugh Friday. "I guess my response is still the same. We'll see what happens in 10 or 15 years. I guess it's come full circle."

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Re: NHL News and Notes June - 2

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Kunitz still unlikely to play for Ducks

Ducks' Kunitz cleared to play for Game 3
June 2, 2007

OTTAWA (AP) -Anaheim Ducks forward Chris Kunitz has been cleared to play three weeks after breaking a bone in his right hand and could return Saturday for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals.

Kunitz, part of the team's top line, would provide an added boost to a Ducks team leading Ottawa 2-0 in the best-of-seven series. Coach Randy Carlyle said it will be decided at game-time if Kunitz will play.

``The last question we asked the doctor is that, 'If this was your son, would you allow him to play?' And the answer, obviously, was yes,'' Carlyle said. The coach's only concern is Kunitz's conditioning.

Kunitz, a gritty left wing, had a goal and five assists in 11 games playing alongside Teemu Selanne and Andy McDonald. He has missed seven games since being hurt May 11 in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against Detroit.

Kunitz has been skating with the team since at least Tuesday, and said he felt good after practice Saturday morning.

``It's going to be a little tight, but nothing I can't work through,'' Kunitz said. ``I'll probably be thrown into the fire because it's such a high level right now. It's going to be exciting to see. Hopefully, I'm in.''

The team had all but ruled him out from the playoffs after he was hurt.

``It's been painful watching,'' Kunitz said. ``It's a great relief that I might have a chance now.''

Selanne was pleased to hear the news.

``When he had surgery, I wasn't really expecting much, but it's unbelievable,'' Selanne said. ``I knew a week ago, he told me he's pretty close, and I said, 'What? Are you serious?' Then I knew that he was coming back, for sure.''

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