Two big questions overshadow this series: Can the Ducks slow Ottawa's big trio (Dany Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza)? Can the Senators handle Anaheim's physicality? Any way you look at it, this matchup has the all the makings of a classic. If any team has the ingredients and ability to slow the most potent trio of the playoffs, it's Anaheim, with its backline tag-team of Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer. But Niedermayer committed a few un-Nidermayer-like penalties against Detroit. He'll have to stay on the ice and out of the box or the Senators' big guns will make the Ducks pay. Down at Ottawa's end of the rink is the stiff challenge of beating a physical team that has both speed and size. That's something the Senators didn't see in the first three rounds against the Penguins, Devils and Sabres. What the Sens have working in their favor is that they're fundamentally sound and deeper than the Ducks. Anaheim, for the most part, will be going with three lines. That said, Ottawa needs to get some offensive production from its second line (Mike Fisher, Mike Comrie, Peter Schaefer) to take pressure off the No. 1 group. Anaheim has the biggest edge, and it's still relatively small, in goaltending, where Jean-Sebastien Giguere (1.87 GAA) is once again proving to be one of the best pressure players around. Of course, Ray Emery's 1.95 GAA isn't too shabby, but his inexperience on the grandest of stages will hurt.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere The Ducks' offense has been anemic at times, but it hasn't mattered much -- not when you feature three solid blueliners and Jiggy between the pipes. When Giguere won the Conn Smythe in 2003, he went 15-6 with a 1.62 GAA and .945 save percentage. In these playoffs, the 30-year-old backstop is 9-3 with a 1.87 GAA and .931 save percentage. Looks like the '03 version has made a comeback, and the Ducks couldn't be happier. Sure, he doesn't make the flashy or amazing saves, but Jiggy is probably the most positionally sound netminder in the league. He is rarely caught out of position and knows his limits when it comes to wandering out of his crease to play the puck (you listening, Dom Hasek?). What makes Giguere's numbers more impressive is the fact that he's usually asked to stand on his head several times a game because the Ducks have a nasty habit of taking untimely/stupid penalties. They'll need to help Giguere a little and show some self-discipline. That especially means you, Mr. Pronger.
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Ducks: Todd Marchant Marchant, who missed the first two rounds while recovering from hernia surgery, will play wing on the Ducks' top line. With Ottawa's defensemen focused on his linemates Teemu Selanne and Andy McDonald, it will be up to Marchant to chip in some needed scoring punch. The 33-year-old has two points in five games since he replaced the injured Chris Kunitz on the No. 1 line. The Ducks will also have to hope that Marchant keeps his penalties to a minimum as he committed two in each of the last two games against Detroit.
Senators: Patrick Eaves It appears as though he's finally getting healthy after suffering a concussion in the Pittsburgh series. Though Eaves has just one point in four games this postseason, he gives the Senators added depth and grit. And since he's been out for much of the playoffs, he should be fresher than just about anyone else, which could come in handy if this turns into a long, hard series -- and there's no reason to think otherwise. Eaves is not a sniper (14 regular-season goals), but he's the type of player who just may come to the forefront before this series is over.
Ducks prove to be more than the Sens can handle and win in six.
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