Blame it on Kelly Hrudey. CBC’s intermission analyst — the less obnoxious one, actually — unabashedly proclaimed just before the third period last night that the Senators would hang on to their one-goal lead and would win the opening game of the Stanley Cup championship series.
Talk about a whammy.
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The Sens grew weary in the final 20 minutes — weird in as much as they had 10 days off before last night — and were outshot 14-6 while squandering their 2-1 lead and falling 3-2 to the Anaheim Ducks.
Travis Moen got the last quack in for the Ducks with a late goal, but it was set up nicely by Rob Niedermayer, who turned in an outstanding two-way performance in this one.
The Sens’ usually outstanding line of Dany Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza, meanwhile, was less than spectacular and largely inconspicuous.
“They’re a dangerous line,” Niedermayer mentioned, “but we made sure we limited our turnovers to them. When you do that, you can do all right against them.”
While the Ducks played responsible hockey, the Sens turned over the puck too frequently. And so they failed to seize the opportunity to rise from slight underdogs to Stanley Cup favourites. Had the Sens been able to cling to their lead and prevail, the Ducks would have lost their home-ice advantage in the series.
Clearly, though, the teams aren’t that far off in talent and, judging from the lid-lifter, there’s no reason to suggest that this won’t be a close and lengthy series.
Can the Sens bounce back and win?
Certainly, but they’ll need to be more energetic, more complete with their checking and less generous in the turnover department.
It also wouldn’t hurt them if Hrudey kept his predictions to himself.
• Hockey Night in Canada’s other intermission analyst, in reality, had a much worse night than Hrudey.
Don Cherry, mysteriously, spent most of his segment between the first two periods raving about — get this — himself. There were even clips of his past predictions. It was I-told-you-so television at its worst.
He also spent part of the first intermission going on about the efforts of the Ducks’ Brad May. After the game, Cherry went on about May again. I mean, he was all right and everything, but the guy played all of six minutes in the game. Six minutes!
• Before last night, the Sens were 8-0 in the post-season when scoring first. Not last night ... In the past 15 Stanley Cup series, the team that won the opener wound up taking the series nine times -- or 60 per cent ... Moen, a left-winger from Saskatchewan, scored only 11 goals in the regular season. He has five in the post-season.