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STANLEY CUP FINALS | DUCK REPORT

Babcock's Not Afraid to Ask

May 27, 2003|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Mighty Duck Coach Mike Babcock is not bashful about soliciting advice.

He has made calls to coaches and others who might offer scouting tips before each playoff series. He recently did so again to get the skinny on New Jersey, although he refused to name names.

"The more people you can talk to, the more people you can get thoughts from, helps," Babcock said.

Perhaps not surprisingly, most of his calls now get returned.

"Some of these people probably wouldn't have returned my calls if we weren't in this situation, so this is a good chance to learn something," Babcock said.

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The Ducks have not won in New Jersey's Continental Airlines Arena since the 1995-96 season, but these are different times.

"This is not the regular season, where you might have played a game the night before," Duck center Steve Rucchin said. "We have had time to prepare for them."

The Ducks are 6-1 in the postseason on the road.

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Duck right wing Steve Thomas arrived a little too late and left a little too early to enjoy his stay in New Jersey to the fullest.

He arrived in a trade with the New York Islanders before the 1995-96 season. The Devils had won the Stanley Cup the previous season. He left as an unrestricted free agent, signing with Toronto, before the 1998-99 season. The Devils won the Cup again the season after that.

"I get here and they miss the playoffs after winning the Cup," said Thomas, who is appearing in his first final in 19 seasons. "I play three seasons here and leave. They win the Cup again. I'm just going to put that down to bad timing."

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A standard Babcock term of endearment is the phrase "greasy hockey," which he was asked to define during a news conference.

"I think we're a greasy team and what I mean is we want the puck more," Babcock said. "If you want the puck more than the other guy, and you're greasy, you got a chance to be successful."

Said Duck captain Paul Kariya: "He uses the term for guys who play hard and are physical. You do all the little things out there and are not just playing offense."

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The Ducks, who are staying in New York City, were surprised and thrilled to find a quick route from town on the way to Monday's practice in New Jersey. Two New York City police cars escorted them to the city limits.

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