Oddsmakers have established the Anaheim Ducks as slight, $1.20 favourites to defeat the Ottawa Senators in the Stanley Cup final, which, in case you were wondering, begins Monday night.
Try telling the Sens they’re underdogs, though.
"Conditioning gives Senators edge," the headline on the club’s website screams.
My hunch is that the Ducks are favoured for good reason. Remember, they have the home-ice advantage in the series. And, on their rink, they lost only six games during the entire regular season.
Also, there is no more significant ingredient for post-season success than big-game experience, and chaps such as Teemu Selanne, Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger have an abundance of it.
And keep in mind also that the Ducks have emerged from a tougher, better conference than the Sens have.
Take the Ducks in six or seven games.
• Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos is picking the Sens. But then, as I recall, he chose Buffalo and Detroit over Ottawa and Anaheim in their respective conference finals. (I took the Sens and Ducks, but I won’t gloat this week. Not after the Raptors decided to rehire and overpay Sam Mitchell as their coach when all my sources’ information suggested they wouldn’t. It’s a move the Raptors may regret next year, but enough about this — for now.)
Canadian handicapper Randall the Handle, incidentally, likes Ottawa.
"While the Ducks may be perceived as stronger," Randall says, "I’m not sure they are. (Anaheim goaltender) J.S. Giguere has come up big in a few games during the playoffs but he’s looked vulnerable at times. Knocking off
Vancouver, Minnesota and Detroit might be admirable but there really isn’t a lot of firepower in that trio.
"The Sens beat the high-flying Sabres with surprising ease, the gritty Devils and the ascending Penguins. One could easily argue that the Sens had the tougher path to the final. They’ll be fresh for the series and, considering how they’ve rolled through these playoffs, they can’t be ignored as an underdog here."
• Believe it or not, the Sens and Ducks haven’t played each other since Jan. 19, 2006. This means the NHL’s schedule is about as stupid as its television agreement with NBC.
• Radio man Bob McCown suggested on the air recently that renowned sports lawyer Gord Kirke would be a sensible replacement for ousted NHLPA chief Ted Saskin. Well, perhaps the NHLPA was listening because, sources tell me, the union is indeed interested in Kirke and has contacted him about the position.
Kirke won’t confirm or deny the rumour.