Inside The Nhl

May 06, 2001

Smashing Success
With a pair of postseason overtime goals, Adam Deadmarsh has
been reborn in L.A.

Shortly before 11 p.m. on Feb. 21, Avalanche right wing Adam
Deadmarsh was standing in front of a mirror in the Colorado
dressing room combing his freshly washed hair and feeling happier
than he'd felt in months. His twin girls, Alexis and Madison,
were 12 days old, and although they'd been born six weeks
premature, they were healthy. So was Deadmarsh's wife, Christa,
whose pregnancy had kept her bedridden for nearly 90 days before
the twins were born.

Deadmarsh had just scored two goals in an 8-2 Avalanche win over
the Bruins, and he felt excited by the rumors that Colorado was
close to acquiring star defenseman Rob Blake from the Kings. Then
coach Bob Hartley tapped him on the shoulder. "He said that
[general manager] Pierre Lacroix wanted to see me," says
Deadmarsh. "I knew I'd been traded. I started thinking about the
girls and having to leave Christa after all we'd been through. It
was hard to keep it together."

Deadmarsh learned from Lacroix that the Avalanche had dealt him
and defenseman Aaron Miller for Blake, center Steve Reinprecht
and a No. 1 draft pick. "Adam was angry and in really rough
shape," says Miller, who sought out Deadmarsh in the dressing
room. "He was unapproachable. He told me, 'I'm not flying out
with you tomorrow,' and that was it."

Three days later, after long talks with Christa and several
visits to the babies in the hospital, Deadmarsh flew to Los
Angeles, where he helped the Kings beat the Blue Jackets 3-1.
With Deadmarsh usually playing on the first line, L.A. went
12-2-5-2 in its last 21 games to earn a playoff berth. Last week
Deadmarsh returned to Colorado as the Kings' postseason hero and
helped Los Angeles gain a split in the first two games of Round 2
against the heavily favored Avalanche. "Once I calmed down and
realized my family was O.K., I got into playing in L.A.," says
Deadmarsh, 25, who'd spent his entire six-year career in the
Colorado organization.

The Kings wanted Deadmarsh partly for his scoring touch (he had
17 goals in 57 games in the regular season) but mainly for his
grit. In Los Angeles's first-round upset of the Red Wings, the
6-foot, 205-pound Deadmarsh scored twice in overtime, including
the Game 6 goal that clinched the series. Against the Avalanche
he had an assist in a 4-3 Game 1 win and was his feisty self,
leading Kings forwards with 13 hits in the first two games. "It's
strange coming back here," said Deadmarsh after an off-day skate
at Denver's Pepsi Center last Friday. "Strange, but good."

Home Ice Advantage
It Don't Mean A Thing

Everyone associated with the host team loves a home playoff game.
The owner rakes in giant profits (a postseason match generates
about $1.5 million in revenue for the home team), the players
enjoy pregame snoozes in their own beds, the coaches plot
matchups knowing they have the last line change, and the fans get
to slug beers in the parking lot. As far as its impact upon a
game's outcome, however, home ice means slightly more than
diddly-squat: Over the last five postseasons, the home team has
won only 53.2% of the time. "As long as I've been in the league,"
says Devils defenseman Scott Niedermayer, who's in his eighth
postseason, "home ice hasn't seemed to matter a whole lot."

So far this spring it has proved especially irrelevant. When the
Blues, Kings, Maple Leafs and Penguins each won the first game of
their respective second-round series last week, it marked only
the second time since 1968 that the road team had won the opener
of each quarterfinal series. In Round 1 this season, three teams
with home ice advantage, the Flyers, Red Wings and Senators, got
bounced, and those that advanced did so largely because of their
success away from home. The Blues, Devils and Stars all won
decisive Game 6s on the road.

Three main factors can minimize the purported home ice edge: 1) a
standout performance by a goalie, 2) a travel schedule that is
less grueling than during the regular season and 3) the
postseason adrenaline coursing through the players on both teams,
which reduces the importance of the home crowd.

Says New Jersey defenseman Ken Daneyko, "Come playoff time, home
ice doesn't mean much. We could be playing in Siberia."

Hatcher-Tkachuk Matchup
Man Your Battle Stations

No confrontation in the conference semifinals is as rancorous or
as critical as the showdown between rough-and-tumble defenseman
Derian Hatcher of the Stars and hard-nosed power forward Keith
Tkachuk of the Blues. Last Friday night St. Louis won the first
game of the series 4-2, and Tkachuk won the first battle of the
bruisers, driving Hatcher to distraction and a -4 rating. Dallas
coach Ken Hitchcock, who had the last change, sent Hatcher onto
the ice for 19 of Tkachuk's 23 shifts. Hatcher chased and bumped
Tkachuk all night. In the second period he took a foolish
slashing penalty for whacking Tkachuk on the calf, and on the
goal that gave the Blues a 3-1 lead, Hatcher turned away from St.
Louis center Marty Reasoner, who had the puck near the offensive
blue line, to follow Tkachuk to the net. Reasoner then skated
into the void left by Hatcher's departure and scored his second
goal of the night against Ed Belfour. Asked if Hatcher had been
preoccupied with him during the game, Tkachuk replied, "I'm not
going to say that, but if you want to...."

On Sunday, Tkachuk and the Blues came out on top again, winning
2-1 to take a 2-0 series lead. Although they were on the ice
together often, Tkachuk and Hatcher more or less neutralized one
another.

The verbal jousting between the two started during a game on
March 23, 1999, when Tkachuk was with the Coyotes. After
Phoenix's Jeremy Roenick blindsided the Stars' Mike Modano,
Tkachuk invited the Dallas players through the media to do
something about it. When the teams met a month later, Hatcher
shattered Roenick's jaw with a crushing forearm, earning a
seven-game suspension. Tkachuk subsequently called Hatcher, a
1998 U.S. Olympic teammate, "a rat," implying that Hatcher had
leaked Tkachuk's name to the press as one of the U.S. players who
had wrecked three rooms at the Olympic Village in Nagano.
Although through Sunday neither player had publicly spoken ill of
his rival during these playoffs, Hitchcock said before Game 1,
"I'm glad I'm going to be on the bench when they're on the ice."
St. Louis coach Joel Quenneville downplayed the duel, calling it
"only a little war." --Brian Cazeneuve

For the latest scores and stats, plus more news and analysis from
Michael Farber and Kostya Kennedy, go to cnnsi.com/hockey.

COLOR PHOTO: DARREN CARROLL Down when Colorado traded him, Deadmarsh came up big against Adam Foote and the Avalanche. COLOR PHOTO: J. BAKER/B. BENNETT STUDIOS COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK

WHICH FREE-AGENT-TO-BE WOULD YOU RATHER SIGN?

JOHN LECLAIR
FLYERS LW
The 31-year-old had only seven goals in 16 games in 2000-01
because of back surgery and a staph infection. Over the previous
three seasons, the power forward averaged 45 goals and 40
assists.

OR

JEREMY ROENICK
COYOTES C
The 31-year-old had 34 goals while playing in all but two of his
team's 82 games in 2000-01. Over the previous three seasons, the
playmaker averaged 29 goals and 46 assists.

The Verdict: Roenick is a superb complementary player and the
safer choice, but we'll gamble on LeClair, who can carry a team
if healthy.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)