I’ve been pretty busy and didn’t have the right amount of time to state why I think the Ducks will beat Ottawa for the Cup. At the risk of sounding like someone who is writing history after the fact, I have always believed that the series will take seven games. It might come down to each team winning their home games, but it will go the distance.
I like Anaheim because they will not let Ottawa go unanswered. In the earlier series’ Chris Neil or Mike Comrie or even Daniel Alfredsson would slash or charge or cross check a Sabre or Devil and other than maybe receiving a penalty, that was the end of it. But the Ducks will gladly hit back frequently and with force, telling the Senators that if you want to hit us, fine, but you are going to get it back. It’s not just Chris Pronger or Brad May or Shawn Thorton who are returning the favors, either. All of the Ducks are and they enjoy doing it. They understand that Ottawa is trying to get them off their game, to distract them, and that if they are to win the Cup they have to respond in kind.
The Senators got good goaltending from Ray Emery in the first three rounds, but I don’t think he can hold his breath through the Finals. He is facing more shots, he is seeing more traffic in the crease, and he is facing more chances than he did earlier in the playoffs. Emery is good, but the team needs him to be almost perfect.
I enjoy seeing all the ex-Blue Jackets out there in Ducks sweaters, getting the chance that they never had here in Columbus. Even Joe Motzko is getting some ice time! Todd Marchant has become the main center for the team and is playing well. I start to cry every time I watch Francois Beauchemin take a shift, depressed about what we missed out on. Newell Brown must have found some smart pills out in California because it was thought that he wasn’t intelligent enough to coach here.
I need to clarify my previous remarks about Nashville. Although I am sad to see them leave town and break the hearts of the hockey fans in their area, I fully support Jim Balsillie likely moving the team to Canada. Hockey is a mess in the U.S. and it’s probably best for the sport if it resides in cities that actually welcome it. Nashville was probably doomed from the start, but they got their chance and couldn’t make it work.
CBJ fans seem to have greater numbers than those in Nashville, but if the team keeps putting out a bad product and making bad hires, then the TV ratings will continue to slide, attendance will continue to drop, and that means revenue will fall. Will the fans be blamed? Will Columbus be called a bad choice for hockey? I don’t know, but it seems like the fans and corporate citizens have done their part, so it’s up to team ownership now. Mulligans are usually just for golf, but the McConnells are getting a fresh start in 2007.