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NHL Playoffs Notes 5/24

May 24, 2007

NHL Playoff Notes By PA SportsTicker

The Anaheim Ducks believe they have the advantage in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Ottawa Senators are going to have to shake off plenty of rust.

The Ducks will host the Senators in Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals on Monday night.

The Senators have not played since they clinched the Eastern Conference finals in five games with a 3-2 overtime win against the top-seeded Buffalo Sabres last Saturday. That means Ottawa will have an eight-day break before the start of the Finals.

Anaheim, which entered the NHL in 1993-94 and will be making its second appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals, clinched the Western Conference finals in six games with a 4-3 victory over the top-seeded Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night.

"It's going to be a tough series, but I think we have the advantage," said Anaheim right wing Teemu Selanne, who has never played in the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Ducks have played in the Finals once before, losing in seven games to the New Jersey Devils in 2003. Unlike that appearance, Anaheim will have the home-ice advantage this time around.

"I think that this room has a lot of guys who went to the Finals against New Jersey in 2003 and they have that experience," said Ducks' defenseman Chris Pronger, who is in his first season with the Ducks. Last season, Pronger played in the Stanley Cup Finals with the Edmonton Oilers.

Defenseman Scott Niedermayer was a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, the last coming in 2003 when he beat his brother Rob and the Ducks in seven games.

This is the first Finals appearance for the modern-era version of the Senators, who entered the league as an expansion team in the 1992-93 season.

Ottawa is 12-3 this postseason, having disposed of all three of its playoff foes in five games.

It was fitting that Daniel Alfredsson, who played in 94 playoff games in 10 seasons with Ottawa, scored the overtime goal in the win that put the Senators in the Finals. He has a team-high 10 goals this postseason to go along with seven assists.

Along with Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley, Alfredsson is part of one of the most prolific scoring trios in the league. This postseason, Spezza has 20 points and Heatley has 21 points, including a team-high 15 assists.

"Ottawa has that top line and you can't shut them down," Ducks' defenseman Sean O'Donnell said. "I think that you want to neutralize them as the best that you can do."

The original Ottawa Senators won their seventh championship in 1927, the first year the NHL assumed control of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The capital city of Canada has not hoisted the trophy since, as the original Senators moved to St. Louis following the 1933-34 campaign.

The modern Senators have experienced mostly heartache in the postseason, advancing past the conference semifinals on just one occasion prior to this year. But thanks to its captain, Ottawa is just four victories away from capturing its first Cup and becoming the first Canadian club to raise the trophy since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens.

Oddly enough, these teams have no first-hand knowledge of one another since they did not meet during the regular season. One thing is certain, the squads will be racking up frequent-flyer miles considering the cities are about 2,800 miles apart. 

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