It May Be Time to Lose Cool
There was more talk Friday about puck management, which came out sounding a lot like yada, yada, yada.
The significant topic, though, was emotion.
Finally, one of the Mighty Ducks oozed some I’m-mad-as-hell-and-I’m-not-gonna-take-it-anymore attitude.
Duck goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Mr. I Never Get Too High Or Too Low, bristled during the daily media forage. He has had to go it mostly alone through consecutive 3-0 New Jersey victories that have left the Ducks in a deep ditch in the Stanley Cup finals. He was ready to demand a little help from his teammates for Game 3 tonight at the Arrowhead Pond.
“I would be very disappointed if not everybody shows up with lots of emotion [tonight],” Giguere said sharply.
“We’ve worked hard all year just to be here. We should enjoy the moment, but come in with some emotion. I think that’s what has been lacking. That’s unacceptable. We have to play for the moment. When is the next time that it’s going to happen to us? We don’t know. We’ve got to live in the present. Right now, we deserve to be here and we’ve got to play with emotion.”
For those who might have missed the key word, it was “emotion.”
The Ducks displayed little of that in losing the first two games. The Devils, in strangling the Ducks so far, seem to be going through practice drills. The Ducks, meanwhile, have treated the Devils’ end of the ice as if it were under quarantine, rarely sticking their big toes past the blue line and scurrying out once they did.
While some talked about managing the puck better, Giguere was spouting a little fire and brimstone, giving a soliloquy on the podium, with reporters as his audience.
Asked why emotion has been lacking, Giguere rushed to answer in as stern a tone as he has used all season.
“I don’t know; it’s a good question, obviously,” Giguere said. “Maybe we don’t think we deserve to win. This is not true. We deserve to win. We have to allow ourselves to be successful. We have been working at this all year.”
Hockey has no fury like a goalie scorned.
The time for the Ducks is now. Of the 40 teams that have lost the first two games in the finals, only three have come back to win the Stanley Cup.
“Anyone on this team has the right to stand up and say something,” Duck center Steve Rucchin said. “J.S. is a guy who says what he feels.”
With a little clout.
Giguere has been brilliant during the playoffs and has remained top-shelf through the first two games of the Cup finals. So the problem lies elsewhere.
The Ducks have rolled over, as if they were waiting to have their bellies scratched. The scenarios have been identical. A scoreless first period, followed by a New Jersey goal, followed by a shutdown of Duck inspiration on offense.
Tonight, Devil goalie Martin Brodeur, who has seen only 32 shots in two games, will try to tie Frank McCool’s NHL record with three consecutive shutouts to open the Cup finals. McCool did it in 1945.
“It would be nice to get the first goal,” Rucchin said. “Just to score would be nice.”
Getting the first one, though, is ultra-important. The Devils have a 10-0 record when scoring first in these playoffs. The Ducks are 8-0 when they score first.
“There is a lot of hate in here right now,” Duck winger Mike Leclerc said. “We hate losing. We need to turn all that energy into some passionate play.”
That will not be as easy as flipping on a switch. But the Ducks are home, where they have allowed only nine goals in winning six of seven playoff games. Coach Mike Babcock has the last line change, which should put the Ducks in more favorable matchups.
Every little thing helps, when you need to ignite a passel of players who have yet to live up to their resumes. Leclerc, Rucchin, Paul Kariya, Petr Sykora, Adam Oates and Rob Niedermayer -- the Ducks’ top six forwards -- have had trouble getting off basic shots, let alone creating quality scoring chances.
Asked his impression of Brodeur, Kariya joked, “We haven’t seen him too much because we haven’t had any shots. Hopefully, I can answer that question better the next game.”
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
At Odds With
Of the 40 teams in league history that won the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals, only three have gone on to lose the series:
Up 2-0: Detroit
Toronto won series, 4-3
Up 2-0: Detroit
Montreal won series, 4-2
Up 2-0: Chicago
Montreal won series, 4-3