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They Continue to Keep Their Houses in Order

Home teams improve to 6-0 in series as both sides, especially the Ducks, try to figure out what it takes to win on road.

June 08, 2003|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

Quite frankly, it wasn't hard for the New Jersey Devils to recognize themselves on Saturday night at the Arrowhead Pond.

Why?

They saw the same thing at Continental Airlines Arena -- in the form of the Mighty Ducks' three-period flop Thursday in the Stanley Cup finals. The same bad bounces and deflections, which went the Devils way that night, went against them two nights later.

"It was a mirror image of Game 5, but swapping teams," Devil goaltender Martin Brodeur said. "They beat us to everything."

Said Devil forward Jeff Friesen: "Bottom line is they played as a team in this game, and got some bounces. It shows what home ice can do sometimes, it can work in your favor, and it has in this series."

No kidding.

With these teams, it's all about one thing: Location, location, location

The statistics, in this case, support the old saying. After defeating the Devils, 5-2, in Game 6 of the finals before a sellout crowd of 17,174 at the Pond, the Mighty Ducks are 9-1 at home in the playoffs. Similarly, New Jersey is an overwhelming 11-1 at home.

Dallas was the lone dent on the Ducks' glitzy home record, beating them, 2-1, on April 28. New Jersey's one defeat at home was in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals to Ottawa in overtime, also 2-1.

The players and coaches from both teams are at a loss to explain why it is so difficult to get it done away from home.

"I don't know. Everyone keeps asking," Devil forward Grant Marshall said. "It's just the way it is. If you look in past years, Jersey's been a very very solid road team, even more so than they were at home. This is just the way it is. Hopefully, we can get one more win at home. They're gonna try and change that."

Duck winger Dan Bylsma described it as a "roller-coaster" on the road at New Jersey.

"There's been big swings of energy in their building. They've been more physical there," he said. "They've been on their game plan and carried the play in their building and it's our job to manage those swings."

Having gone on three wild rides, all for naught, in New Jersey, has given the Ducks more than enough experience for Monday's Game 7.

"This is two teams that play similar hockey and have similar game plans," Bylsma said. "We know they're coming and how they're going to play after six games, and we have to handle that and ride the swings and the energy in that building and try to get our game plan more than we [have]."

Home teams are 6-0 in the finals for only the fourth time since the best-of-seven format began in 1939. This will be the 12th Game 7 in Stanley Cup finals history, and the home team is 9-2. The last time the road team won Game 7 was in 1971 when Montreal defeated Chicago, 3-2.

"It's one of those things where we've got to leave it out there every shift," the Ducks' Steve Thomas said. "We just can't go back there and play one good period."

Besides, there will be plenty of rest for the road warriors after Game 7.

"Whatever it takes because after that we've got three months off," Duck goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere said. "We have nothing to hold on for, just go out there, and leave everything on the table and we'll see what's going to happen after that."

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