Duck grinders do the job
By TERRY JONES -- Sun Media
ANAHEIM -- Their job definition is to kill your will to win.
Sammy Pahlsson is the ultimate checker on the checking line which has totally taken the top line of the Ottawa Senators away. And he put them away.
They kill will. Then they pull the trigger and bury you with one shot.
In Game 1 it was Travis Moen. In Game 2 it was Pahlsson.
It was perfect not only that Pahlsson took the shot that finally beat Ray Emery for the only goal of the game, it was perfect that it came on a give-away by Dany Heatley.
OUTPLAYED BY CHECKERS
The Senators are down two games to none in this series because Anaheim Ducks' grinder guys - Pahlsson, Rob Neidermayer and Moen - have not only made Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza completely disappear, they're killing them on offence as well.
The Pahlsson-Neidermayer-Moen line has scored both game winners in the series and is a combined plus six.
The winning goal was the freeze-frame for the series and the playoffs for the Ducks.
"It's what we try to do all the time is turn the puck over," said Pahlsson, who was also 10 for 12 in the faceoff circle.
"That's the best possible scenario for us, to get turnovers on the blueline."
Ottawa coach Bryan Murray says there's no mystery about what's happening here.
"Their checking line. They've been the stars of the series," he said.
"They're just doing a great job. That's just been the key for them. Our turnovers are creating offence for them. We're trying to create some offence and we're not getting much.
"When your top players don't score ... yeah, I'm concerned. They have to help us win games on the road as well as at home."
No debate about that.
And let the debate now begin as to whether or not this series is over.
Before it started, the debate was more the number of games it would take for the Ottawa Senators to win Canada's first Stanley Cup since 1993. Now the debate is if they'll get back here to play Game 5.
For the first time since back in December, the Senators have lost back-to-back games. That's a run of 63 games.
Not since the Montreal Canadiens in 1986 against the Calgary Flames has a team lost Game 1 on the road and come back to win the Stanley Cup final. And this team has now lost two.
Of the 30 home clubs which have won the first two games since the best-of-seven format was adopted, 29 have gone on to win the Cup. Now Ottawa has to win four of the next five. And so far, it's been 20 players against one.
Ray Emery was back there by himself in a shooting gallery for great parts of this game. And the goaltender certainly couldn't be blamed on the winner, Pahlsson pulling the trigger with 5:44 remaining in the third, sending a perfect shot off the inside of the post.
Murray broke up his big line, which leads the playoffs in scoring, for the first 10 minutes of the first period with the shots 10-1 for the Ducks. It ended up 31-16, the fewest shots Anaheim has allowed through the entire playoffs.
Now what does he do?
Maybe home ice and the last line change will make a difference. But it didn't make much against that other one line team - the Vancouver Canucks with the Sedin twins - in the second round. This team specializes in taking one-line teams away.
DEBATE HAS TURNED
When this started, the debate was how the Ducks could stop the Senators big scoring line. Now the Senators have to figure out how to step the Ducks checking line!?
"Right from the beginning of the year, that line has been able to give us quality minutes. And as you know, in the playoffs everybody steps up the defensive aspects of the game at least 20 to 25 percent," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle.
"The one thing about those guys is that they play tough minutes and a lot of times the spotlight has not been directed towards them. And right now they're earning that."
Posted on May 31, 2007, 8:38 AM from IP address 126.96.36.199