|Anaheim's Miller scores big hit|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 28 May 2007 18:51|
On his second shift in the Stanley Cup finals opener Monday night, Miller's hit on Ottawa's Wade Redden led to a turnover and linemate Andy McDonald's game-tying goal seconds later.
The Ducks went on to beat the Senators 3-2.
Miller was scoreless in his NHL debut against Minnesota on April 19, when the Ducks clinched their first-round series. He played in 79 games with Portland of the AHL this season, with 16 goals and 20 assists.
Miller's older brother, Ryan, who plays goalie for the Buffalo Sabres, was among the sellout crowd of 17,274.
Drew Miller is the fifth member of his family to play in the NHL. His cousins Kip, Kelly and Kevin have played for six different teams, with Kip and Kevin having stints in Anaheim.
LONG LAYOFF: The Senators came in off a long layoff, wrapping up their Eastern Conference finals by beating Buffalo in Game 5 on May 19. The Ducks needed six games to win the West, defeating Detroit in the clincher last Tuesday.
Although Ottawa got off to a quick start, scoring 1:38 into the game against Anaheim in Monday's Stanley Cup finals opener, the Senators' energy level seemed to wane as the game wore on.
``They hadn't played for a number of days and it may have affected them,'' Ducks defenseman Sean O'Donnell said after the 3-2 victory, when they outshot Ottawa 14-7 in the third period.
He expects the Senators to be going full steam in Wednesday's Game 2 in Anaheim.
``My experience is that when a team loses a (playoff) game, they play their best in the next one,'' O'Donnell said. ``So the game is going to be a tough one for us.''
The Senators won the opening game of each series on the way to the Cup final. The Ducks lost the first game of the conference finals to Detroit.
JUST DUCKY: There was quite a racket in the curtained off area behind the makeshift press room before the opening game of the Stanley Cup finals.
Some of the Ducks were merely going through their pre-game ritual. If they were nervous heading in against Ottawa, it certainly didn't show.
Ryan Getzlaf kicked a soccer ball to Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who headed it to Francois Beauchemin. The ball eventually got away from the circle, with all the players laughing and chiding the one who made the bad pass.
The Ducks have been playing ``hall soccer'' for years before games, including during their 2003 trip to the Cup finals, where they lost to New Jersey in Game 7.
CLUB SELANNE: Teemu Selanne never forgets his friends.
The ``Finnish Flash'' had his own rooting section Monday night, and those fans were easy to pick out of the mostly pro-Anaheim crowd.
Dressed in bright orange T-shirts with ``Teemu'' written across the front, 16 of Selanne's childhood friends cheered him during his first appearance in the finals in his 14-year NHL career.
``It was 15 or 14 years ago, before I came to the NHL, I said if I ever got to the Stanley Cup finals, they would come too,'' said Selanne, who at 36 is the oldest player in the series. ``They have good memories.''
Selanne said they've all been friends since they were about 6 or 7, motioning with his hand by his knee to estimate their height at the time they met.
While he was happy to have them in Anaheim to share this special time in his career, he was quick to point out they wouldn't be staying at his house during the finals. They won't be following him when the series shifts to Ottawa, either.
As much pull as Selanne might have after leading the Ducks this season with 48 goals and 94 points, he couldn't get them 16 seats together.
``There is like five, three, two, one, one,'' he said. ``It's hard to get tickets. I think they will have their shirts on. They gave me one and I said, 'I will try this on later.'''
DUCK POOL: A fender-bender on the way to the rink could be disastrous for Anaheim's Stanley Cup hopes: defensemen Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer, each a finalist for his second Norris Trophy; goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, and forward Rob Niedermayer, Scott's younger brother, car pool to work.
Pronger's routinely at the wheel.
``Chris usually drives, so he controls the radio. We sit in the back and Chris sits in the front. It's a big limousine-type thing,'' Scott said, then added with a smile, ``No, it's a sedan.''
Giguere enjoys the company.
``It's fun driving with Pronger and Scotty and Robbie,'' he said. ``They're real leaders. For me, it's kind of sitting and listening to them and trying to get some good advice. And we save a whole lot of time, with the traffic around here.''
Scott said sometimes the ride is quiet, with the quartet focusing on getting ready for the game.
``There is a lot of awkward silence. Well, not awkward but there is silence,'' he said. ``I don't think there is a lot of discussion. Sometimes there is. My brother and Chris sometimes are talking football and stuff like that.''
Scott, at 33 the senior member of the group, makes sure everyone has their seat belts buckled, and said speeding tickets are not a problem.
``There is no speeding on the way to the rink at 5 o'clock,'' he said, alluding to the rush-hour crawl, even in the car pool lane.
BRI(Y)AN'S TEAM: Anaheim GM Brian Burke gives credit where it's due, and in the case of the current Ducks, that's to Ottawa coach Bryan Murray.
Talking about some of Anaheim's younger players such as Corey Perry, Dustin Penner and Ryan Getzlaf, Burke said, ``I've never talked about those kids once without mentioning I didn't draft any of them, I didn't sign any of them.
``Those are Bryan Murray's decisions to have them here and he deserves credit for them being here.''
Murray was the Ducks' coach in 2001-02 season, and their GM the following season when they made their first appearance in the Cup finals, losing to New Jersey in Game 7. He left Anaheim to return to the bench in Ottawa, the area where he grew up.
Murray returned Burke's compliments.
``He's done a real good job. He's kind of put this team together, put a good coaching staff together in a hurry. And obviously it's paid great dividends for him.''
Nash sang the U.S. national anthem. ... The Ducks' Rob and Scott Niedermayer became the first brothers to play in the finals as teammates since Rich and Ron Sutter of the Philadelphia Flyers in 1985. The last brothers to win the Cup were Brent and Duane Sutter of the New York Islanders in 1983.