|Ducks rest up while Sens attempt to get kinks out|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 31 May 2007 21:38|
The Anaheim Ducks arrived in Ottawa on Thursday and headed straight for their hotel for some well-deserved rest and relaxation following a five-hour cross country flight. It was a different story for the Senators, who held a light practice at their arena.
``Nothing too strenuous,'' coach Bryan Murray said. ``Get the kinks out.''
The Senators might have more than a kink or two to work out now that they find themselves down 2-0 in the best-of-seven series, which shifts to Ottawa for Games 3 and 4 on Saturday and Monday.
Despite losing both games by a goal, including a 1-0 loss on Wednesday, the Senators have been out-hustled, out-hit and thoroughly outplayed by a determined Ducks opponent that's proven to be the better and more opportunistic team.
``I don't know if it's frustration or not,'' Murray said. ``It's disappointing. But we have to find a way to play better.''
The Senators' troubles start with their top line of Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza. It's a trio which combined for 23 of Ottawa's 48 goals through the first three rounds, but has been limited to two assists against the Ducks.
What makes things worse is that Anaheim's checking line has produced both decisive goals, including Samuel Pahlsson's winner scored with 5:44 left on Wednesday.
``If we score it's kind of a bonus,'' Pahlsson said. ``We put a lot of pride in doing our thing out there and not taking any chances and playing the simple game we have to play.''
The Ducks are 14-4 this postseason, have won five straight overall and are 5-2 on the road. And history suggests their 2-0 lead is a commanding one. Of the 30 teams that won their first two games at home in the finals, 29 have gone on to win the Cup.
Don't tell that to Ducks coach Randy Carlyle.
``I wouldn't say there's any level of comfort,'' Carlyle said. ``There's no coach that's going to sit here and say that he's comfortable. I guarantee you our group is not comfortable.''
The Ducks, however, should take comfort in knowing they've knocked the Senators off their game. Ottawa had lost only three games in its first three playoff series and had not dropped two straight in regulation since late December.
The Senators hope playing in a more familiar environment - Saturday's game will be their first at home in 17 days - will provide a necessary boost.
``We're down two games, but we're still an excited and confident group,'' defenseman Chris Phillips said. ``We can't push the panic button and change things all around because we're down two games. We're not executing very well and we have to do a better job of that.''
Another benefit of playing at home is that the Senators will get the last line change, allowing the Alfredsson-Heatley-Spezza line to avoid the Ducks' checkers during faceoffs.
That'll help, Spezza said. A bigger plus, though, Spezza acknowledged, would be for him to improve his play.
``I have to become an impact guy and I have to try to get us out of this,'' he said. ``We're all in this together. But obviously, I have to be a catalyst. When you're playing center, a lot of responsibilities go to you to create plays.''
Ottawa will be hosting its first Cup final game since the old Senators beat Boston to win the title in 1927.
The Ducks, meanwhile, are attempting to 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.
Anaheim is taking nothing for granted, even going to the extreme of holing up at a resort located among the farm fields and golf courses of a rural section of Gatineau, Quebec. What it might lack as far as nightlife and excitement, it makes up for its serene setting: The Ducks happy to be away from the distractions that downtown Ottawa - and its hockey-mad and still Stanley Cup-fevered fans - might have to offer.
``Knowing the intensity and the atmosphere that's created in Canadian cities with the culture of the game, we thought it was in our best interests that we moved and got away from downtown,'' Carlyle said. ``We think it's time to focus.''
The resort - about a 30-minute drive from Scotiabank Place - also happens to have its share of good luck. It's the same place the New Jersey Devils stayed when they eliminated Ottawa in seven games in the 2003 Eastern Conference finals.
``It's fine by me,'' said defenseman Scott Niedermayer, a member of that Devils team. ``But our job is on the ice.''
The setting's also fine with Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, a Montreal native.
``It feels like I'm at home right now,'' Giguere said.