Senators vs. Ducks: Flames Blog on the Stanley Cup Final

Before the playoffs, I was walking with a fellow fan, discussing what the post-season might bring. And I said to her, “It’s Ottawa’s year. They’re like the Islanders were before their first Cup in 1980 — they’ve gone through years of disappointment, but this year they look different. Like they’ve finally figured it out.” Then, of course, I went on to write on this blog that the Flames were going to surprise everyone and upset Ottawa in the Cup final. Did I ever really believe that? You won’t catch me admitting to it.

Even before the final arrives, this has been my best year ever predicting playoff winners. I’ve been helped by the fact there have been few surprises, but still, I went 7-for-8 in Round 1, 3-for-4 in Round 2 and 2-for-2 in Round 3 — not too shabby. Both of my losses were Red Wings victories. That’s clearly a team that I underestimated, and that are going to be strong in coming seasons if they can get any more out of Hasek and if they can rid themselves of Todd Bertuzzi and spend that money more wisely. But as strong as they were in defeating the Flames and the Sharks, they couldn’t figure it out against the Anaheim Ducks, who are a magnificent team.

Each time the Ducks played the Flames this season, I declared that I “hated” them, and liked seeing Calgary defeat no other team more. A little bit of that had something to do with the 2006 playoffs. But mostly it had to do with jealousy. Anaheim can win any way they like — and they’re even semi-likable, something Kyle covered off very nicely over at Real Deal Hockey. I like the style Scott Niedermayer plays as much as anyone’s in the league, Teemu Selanne seems like a genuinely nice guy who’s earned this chance after 15 years, and Chris Pronger fucked the Oilers right over. Randy Carlyle is the young coach Jim Playfair should be. And though those uniforms are still generally bad, they’re a huge step up from the Disney-designed monstrosities that began the horrible jersey streak now in its 15th horrible year.

And while Ryan Getzlaf has been getting a lot of press lately, and deservedly so, has anyone else noticed Corey Perry turn into an excellent all-around player the last six weeks? I saw him play in London with the Knights on one of the best junior teams of all time, and while he was clearly an immensely skilled guy, he was also a No. 94-wearing hot-dog and was only the No. 28 overall pick in 2003. Now he wears No. 10, and I’m thinking when it all plays out, Perry and Getzlaf might be the best one-two punch after Crosby-Malkin in the league.

So, all that said, here’s what I said before the Conference finals:

After all these years, we still haven’t seen a European captain raise the Stanley Cup. This series will come down to Daniel Alfredsson vs. Scott Niedermayer, and I ask you: Who do you see raising the trophy? I love Scott Niedermayer. When he held out from New Jersey many years ago, he spent his fall skating with the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, where I was working at the time. Daily, I watched him skate. It was breathtaking, effortless, and like nothing I’ve ever seen live. He’s smart, skilled, and a great leader on a team full of great players.

But through this year’s playoffs, I’ve seen Daniel Alfredsson, in person and on television, become a different player. He is the clear focal point on his team, and will do anything to win. When Colby Armstrong was running Senators all over the place, it was Alfredsson who ran him into the boards by the bench, raked his helmet along the dasher for about 10 feet, took him down and delivered a message straight into his ear. He’s scored, blocked shots, and said the right things. After 10 years of disappointment, he wants it — and I think he wants it more that Niedermayer does.

These teams will match up wonderfully. Ottawa has the edge up front; Anaheim the edge on the back-end and with its checking line. It will be an incredible series, perhaps even better than Ottawa-Buffalo is going to turn out to be. But it’s Ottawa’s turn this year.

Gee, maybe I should have saved this take for a couple of weeks.

The pick: Senators in seven.

I’ve watched a lot of the Senators during these playoffs, including getting to a first-round game at ScotiaBank Place, and I’ve seen nothing I don’t like. The Ducks, on the other hand, are still susceptible to one thing: Inconsistency. That was never more evident than the third period of Game 6 against Detroit. Sure, they held on to win — but Detroit missed two glorious chances to score, so there was a bit of luck involved there. Ottawa won’t be inconsistent, and they won’t miss their chances.

Alfredsson? All he did against Buffalo was lead the way all series long, then notch the winner in Game 5.

What I said stands: This is their year.

I’ve been a bit absent lately, but as I mentioned in someone’s comments a while ago, I’m planning to return to semi-regular blog status when the NHL draft arrives, just ahead of free agency, summer excitement, etc. A big thanks to my lifelines on the other blogs, particularly MetroGnome, who’s lately kept us up to date on junior signees and moving farm teams.

I have a feeling this will be an interesting summer.

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~ by duncan on May 27, 2007.

5 Responses to “Senators vs. Ducks: Flames Blog on the Stanley Cup Final”

  1. Loved your description of Alfie pasting Armstrong when you first posted it, and loved reading it again a second time. Good predictions, too bad the Flames couldn’t be the opponent.

  2. While I’ve grasped at Flames-News straws, it’s certainly been a struggle to keep the blog updated recently…

    Like you, I think the Senators will take it this year – they’ve been the best team in the league the last 5 months and, to my eyes, the most consistently excellent club in the post-season.

  3. Hey man, you’re doing better than me. And consistently excellent is a great way to describe the Sens. I don’t see a weakness there.

  4. The Sens have looked good, but it could come down to Murray vs. Carlyle. I like Carlyle.

  5. I would have been more likely to agree until the third period of Game 6, in which the Ducks looked Flamesesque in their inability to close the deal. That wasn’t drive by Detroit, it was lack of focus by the Ducks. All indications the last month are that Murray has the ears of all 20 guys. I can’t remember a game where they’ve looked out of it, or unable to adjust to changing circumstances.

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