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Road to Cup Goes Through New Jersey

June 04, 2003|Chris Foster and Elliott Teaford | Times Staff Writers

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — There is one simple fact facing the Mighty Ducks: They must win a game in New Jersey. There is no other way for them to take home the Stanley Cup.

The final has come down to a best-of-three series, starting with Game 5 at the Continental Airlines Arena Thursday. Game 7, if necessary, is also in New Jersey.

The Devils have a 10-1 record at home during the playoffs. They have allowed 10 goals in those 11 games.

"We knew all along that were going to have win one here," Duck winger Rob Niedermayer said. "But you look at our road record in the playoffs and we have done well in places like Detroit and Dallas."

The Ducks are 6-3 on the road during the playoffs. They have had troubles in Detroit and Dallas in previous seasons but won two road games from the Red Wings and two of three from Dallas this postseason.

But that road record also includes back-to-back losses -- both 3-0 shutouts -- to the Devils in the first two games.

"We were coming off 10 days off," center Adam Oates said. "We didn't have our 'A' game. We have played better the last two games. The goal is to get one [road win] Thursday."

The Ducks have not won a game at New Jersey since Feb. 11, 1996, a streak of eight consecutive games. The Ducks had an 18-17-2-4 road record during the regular season.

"We held serve at home and that gave us a lot of confidence," defenseman Keith Carney said. "We know we have to take it up another level for Game 5."


The original Duck loves what he sees from the 10th edition of the team.

"I only have one thing to say, 'Do you believe in miracles?' " said goaltender Guy Hebert, the first Duck picked in the 1993 expansion draft and now a radio commentator and member of the organization's community relations staff. "I saw Al Michaels sitting down there next to Mr. Eisner [Disney chairman Michael Eisner]."

Hebert said he had a difficult time containing his excitement in the radio booth after Steve Thomas' winning goal 39 seconds into overtime Monday night. "Me and [play-by-play man] Steve Carroll were going crazy," Hebert said. "He was climbing out of the window. It could only be better if I was playing.

"I mean, Steve Thomas, you've got to feel good for a guy like that. Every guy in the NHL deserves to play in a game like this. Few get to. You might play for 15 years and never get back to a Stanley Cup finals. I played 12 years and the farthest I ever got was Game 7 in the second round for St. Louis against Toronto and they [the Maple Leafs] won. And that's probably farther than a lot of other guys ever get.

"The accomplishment by this team is extraordinary when you consider how far it's come. Hopefully, this isn't a fleeting thing."

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