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First Look

May 24, 2003|Chris Foster

OFFENSE

Offense? What offense? The Devils are the only playoff team that didn't have a player reach 60 points during the regular season. Nashville was the only other team without a 60-point scorer. The Devils had the fourth-fewest goals of any playoff team. The Ducks had the second-fewest of any playoff team. Both teams thrive on quality, not quantity, getting timely goals. The matchup puts a microscope on the teams' off-season trade. The Ducks picked up Petr Sykora in a deal that sent Jeff Friesen and Oleg Tverdovsky to the Devils. Sykora led the Ducks with 34 goals during the regular season. Tverdovsky struggled because of injuries, but Friesen scored 23 goals, the second most on the team.

DEFENSE

Is there any team playing better defense than the Ducks? They have given up 21 goals in 14 games, and it isn't all because of goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Keith Carney, Ruslan Salei and Niclas Havelid are each averaging more than 27 minutes per game. While the Ducks bristle at being called a trapping team, the Devils revel in the description and claim it as their invention. Scott Stevens is as good a defenseman as there is in the NHL, especially in the playoffs. Scott Niedermayer, the brother of the Ducks' Rob Niedermayer, is dangerous from the blue line.

GOALTENDING

Giguere has given up only one goal in the last 273 minutes 17 seconds. He stopped 122 of 123 shots in the four-game sweep over Minnesota in the Western Conference finals. Yet, as a playoff goalie, he takes a back seat in this series. Martin Brodeur has won two Stanley Cups already and is having nearly as successful a run through the playoffs as Giguere heading into the Cup finals.

COACHING

Mike Babcock's playoff debut has been almost as successful as his goalie's. He has been effective in getting the matchups he wants, even when on the road. Babcock said he learned some tricks in games against Devil Coach Pat Burns this season. Burns, cantankerous and volatile, has taken teams to the playoffs nine times in 13 seasons, yet has not won the Cup.

FINAL ANALYSIS

Don't blink, you might miss the only goal in each game. Sure this could be seven 1-0 games, but the Ducks have a little more offense. Parade down Katella Avenue, anyone?

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