Friday, May 23, 2003
Keys to Game 7 for the Devils and Senators
By Bill Clement
Special to ESPN.com
Keys for the Devils
Game 7 Facts & Figures
• Nineteen teams in NHL history have rallied from a 3-1 series deficit, but a record-tying three already have done it this playoff season (Minnesota twice and Vancouver once; tie with 1992). The Senators will try to become the fourth.
• Devils captain Scott Stevens is expected to play in his 12th career Game 7 and move ahead of Doug Gilmour into second place among active players behind Patrick Roy.
• Devils head coach Pat Burns will make his eighth career appearance behind the bench in a Game 7, moving into a tie for third place on the all-time list with the Toronto Maple Leafs' Pat Quinn. Scotty Bowman and Mike Keenan share the all-time lead (9).
• Devils forward Patrik Elias is one of just three active players with two game-winning goals in a Game 7 with Calgary's Chris Drury and Dallas' Claude Lemieux.
• A total of 109 series have gone to the limit since the best-of-seven format was introduced in 1939. The home team has won 69, the visiting team 40. Home and road clubs have split the four Game 7s this season -- the Vancouver Canucks (against St. Louis) and Philadelphia Flyers (against Toronto) won at home, the Minnesota Wild (twice, against Colorado and Vancouver) won on the road. The home team has won eight of the last 10 Game 7s.
Joe Nieuwendyk was clearly in a lot of pain at the end of the game and needed help to walk to the locker room. He's said that he will play Game 7 and that his problems walking to the locker room were due to fatigue and frustration. For the Devils' sake, let's hope he's right. In Game 6, he was the Devils' most dangerous offensive player, so his health is vital to the Devils' chances. During the Senators' two-game winning streak, the Devils have dried up offensively, and his presence is a huge key to Game 7.
The Devils are in a lot of trouble and need Martin Brodeur to have his best game of the season for them to win Game 7. Brodeur's 32 saves in Game 6 were vital for the Devils, and they need him to keep it up.
Keys for the Senators
The Senators clearly look like the better team right now and don't need to make any adjustments. They just need to keep doing what they've done in the past two games, especially in Game 6. Their top players are peaking at the right time, and there's nothing the Devils have been able to do to stop them.
Marian Hossa was incredible in Game 6. He seems to be the type of athlete who plays better the more he's banged up, and he's very banged up at the moment. This is Ottawa's game to win, especially the way Patrick Lalime is playing.
What non-goalie matchup will be key in Game 7?
Hossa and Scott Stevens -- that's who Hossa went around to set up the shot that won Game 6. Hossa is playing lights out and will be difficult to stop. Stevens will have to play big when matched up singularly against him.
Who's going to win?
You can't give a team like Ottawa a chance to come back and win. The Senators will win Game 7 and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in their history.
Who do the Ducks matchup best against?
The Ducks match up better against the Devils. The Devils do a very good job of manufacturing ways to win, but the Minnesota Wild players were the first to admit that the Ducks were the toughest team to play against because they play airtight hockey. The Minnesota players said they finally met a team that was more patient than they were -- and the Ducks are more patient than the Devils.
The Devils don't have the firepower or balance on different lines that Ottawa has. The Ducks' difficulty in matching up with Ottawa is the same as for the Devils. There's no singular weapon to direct defensive stoppers toward. The Senators have no Joe Thornton line or Vincent Lecavalier line to single out defensively. They are spread out offensively, which is a great advantage against a team like the Ducks.
Bill Clement is a hockey analyst for ESPN. He played 11 seasons in the NHL as a center and won two Stanley Cups with the Philadelphia Flyers.