Great Scott: Niedermayer sparks Mighty Ducks

Updated: April 24, 2006, 9:00 PM ET
Associated Press

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- When Mighty Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer works his magic on the ice, Jean-Sebastien Giguere has an excellent vantage point.

Scott Niedermayer
Niedermayer

"Nothing comes easy in this game, but he just makes it look like it's easy and effortless. He's that good," the Anaheim goalie said Monday. "I wish I could be like that."

The 32-year-old Niedermayer said he simply tries to be efficient.

"Being in the right spot, not wasting energy. You can go out there and use a lot of energy and not accomplish what you want," he explained.

Niedermayer, the Norris Trophy winner as the NHL's top defenseman in 2003-04 in his final season with New Jersey, signed with Anaheim last summer and had 13 goals and 50 assists this season to help the Ducks make the playoffs.

A sensational play in the first period of Game 2 in Calgary showed why he's considered one of hockey's best. Niedermayer deftly flicked the puck away from the Flames' Matthew Lombardi in Anaheim's zone, raced down the ice on a 150-foot breakaway and beat goalie Miikka Kiprusoff.

The shorthanded goal gave the Ducks a 2-0 lead and they went on to a 4-3 victory Sunday to even the series 1-1 heading into Tuesday night's game in Anaheim.

Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle, himself a former Norris Trophy winner, was asked what makes Niedermayer special, and he grinned and said, "A long list of things."

Carlyle talked about some of those, including Niedermayer's conditioning and stamina, his sense of knowing where everyone is on the ice and the way he sets an example for the team.

"The one thing that surprises you the most, from my perspective as a former player, is his ability to be part of the offensive side of it, then to read and get back to be part of the defensive side of it," Carlyle said.

"He's almost like a rover at times. He has the ability to lead a rush, then be the first guy back to defend a puck that's turned over," he said.

Niedermayer played on three Stanley Cup champions in 12 seasons in New Jersey before leaving for Anaheim and joining his younger brother, Rob, a center for the Ducks.

Carlyle is obviously a big fan of Scott's.

"He just keeps going. He has the ability, cardiovascular-wise, where he can skate a two-minute shift and go sit on the bench for 15 or 20 seconds and he's right back out there," the coach said. "His ability to recover is something he takes pride in, and he works extremely hard at it."

Noting that on road trips, Niedermayer is usually among the first in the weight room, Carlyle said, "He has a routine that he likes to go through and he's found a way to keep himself fresh and prepared.

"Talk about creating an environment, bringing people in to put a positive spin and teach younger players, this is the way he perceives it has to be done and he lives it. So it's a great learning curve for our younger players," he said.

Niedermayer said: "I realize more that, as you get older, you have to work more."

Talking again about efficiency, he said, "Maybe I don't tire myself out as much as some guys might. I'm lucky that way. Then, most years I've played a certain amount of minutes and that's going to get you in shape. I come off a hard shift, and maybe 30 seconds later we have a power-play chance, I can shoot myself back out there."

Giguere said Niedermayer sets the tone for the team.

"He's the leader. Everywhere he's been, he's won. As a young team, if we're ever not sure where to go or how to play, we can just look at him and he'll show us the direction, that's for sure," Giguere said.

The goalie, who sat out Game 1 against Calgary because of an undisclosed injury then made 22 saves in the second game, said he feels fine and is ready for Game 3.

The fourth game is Thursday night in Anaheim.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press