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Are Ducks Too Quick on the Draw?

June 02, 2003|Jerry Crowe | Times Staff Writer

The New Jersey Devils had an easy answer for why the Mighty Ducks were so dominant on faceoffs in Saturday night's game.

They said the Ducks cheated.

Center John Madden first made the accusation late Saturday after the Ducks won a whopping 63% of the draws in a 3-2 victory in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals, among them the pivotal faceoff that led to Ruslan Salei's winning goal at 6 minutes 59 seconds of overtime.

Madden reiterated his claim Sunday and Coach Pat Burns weighed in on the topic too, each saying the Duck centers gained an unfair advantage around the faceoff dots by moving before the referees had dropped the puck.

"If you ask me if they encroach and cheat, I'd have to say yes, they do," Burns said. "Their sticks sometimes won't be on the ice at the proper time, they have their skates turned a little bit, they'll fake a little bit to get our guy to move. And they do it well.

"I can't say that it's something wrong they're doing because they've been allowed to do it. If you can get away with cheating, you can do anything you want."

Said Madden, who lost 13 of 23 draws as the Ducks cut the Devils' lead in the best-of-seven championship series to two games to one: "It's like if some guy wants to race you and you're standing still at the blue line and he's gliding a little bit. Obviously, he's going to get the jump on you and beat you. That's what's kind of happening. They're getting the jump on us because they're not coming to a complete stop like we are."

It's not great anticipation?

"You call it anticipation," Madden said. "It's more cheating, in my eyes."

Adam Oates of the Ducks, who won a draw against Pascal Rheaume to set up the winning goal, bristled at Madden's comments.

"Maybe he's trying to send a little message, trying to get to the referees," Oates said. "I didn't see anything."


Martin Brodeur said he guessed wrong on Salei's goal.

"I thought he was going to go high," the goaltender said. "In Game 2, he had the same opportunity off a faceoff and he went high on the blocker side. I wanted to take an extra step to get a better position and he just fired really hard low, and when you're moving it's hard to react low."


Patrik Elias, on the Ducks' contention that the Devils had six skaters on the ice when Elias scored a second-period goal: "Don't even go there."

The winger, who leads all scorers with five points in the series, was headed off the ice for a line change, with Jay Pandolfo jumping over the boards, before doubling back, streaking toward the net and taking a pass from Jamie Langenbrunner before chipping a shot past goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

"I was just cruising back toward the bench," Elias said, "and then I just look back over my shoulder and I saw the play develop and I just jump right back in."

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