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Goaltending of Giguere and Hasek dictates low-scoring Western final

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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Goaltending of Giguere and Hasek dictates low-scoring Western final

The Canadian Press
By:

Anaheim's Giguere has a 1.28 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage, while Detroit's Hasek has a 1.51 GAA and a .930 save percentage.

Goaltending doesn't get any better than this.

Making matters even more difficult for the shooters will be the presence of four Norris Trophy winners - Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer of the Ducks and Nicklas Lidstrom and Chris Chelios of the Red Wings - and Grade-A penalty killing on both sides.

"We'll have to get a lot of traffic in front of the goalie," said Red Wings forward Johan Franzen. "We've got to try for second chances - maybe shoot for rebounds and score that way."

Detroit's checking line of Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby and Dan Cleary should be close enough to smell the breath of every member of Anaheim's top attacking unit of Teemu Selanne, Andy McDonald and Chris Kunitz.

Anaheim will use Sammy Paulsson, Travis Moen and Rob Niedermayer to get in the faces of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom.

All of this means that fans might look for players such as Franzen and teammate Mikael Samuelsson or the Ducks' Ryan Getzlaf and Dustin Penner to score some big post-season goals.

"It happens a lot in the playoffs," says Samuelsson, who scored both goals in the series clincher against San Jose on Monday. "The third-and fourth-line players score because the other team forgets about them a little bit."

Detroit has great lineup depth. The Red Wings have 11 players who have scored two or more playoff goals this spring.

"A big part of our success has been using four lines and trying to wear down the other team and we're going to continue doing that in this series," says Draper.

The Ducks can spread it around, too, and have eight players with two or more goals.

Red Wings forward Robert Lang says scoring against Anaheim shouldn't be more difficult than scoring against first-round opponent Calgary or second-round foe San Jose.

"It's always difficult," says Lang. "I mean, in the two series we've played, (San Jose's Evgeni) Nabokov was great and (Calgary's Miikka) Kiprusoff was outstanding.

"Unless you get lucky, you don't get an easy goal in the playoffs. So far, even though we had tough goalies (to play against) we managed to score enough goals to move on so, hopefully, we'll do that again."

You work with what you have, says Red Wings coach Mike Babcock.

"You'd like to score a whole ton every night," he says. "You have to look after your own end to allow success to come out, but our message here hasn't been about offence or defence.

"It was about being more competitive, being harder to play against. I thought Anaheim really helped us with that this year. We went into their building and they abused us the first game of the year. That kind of got us on our way. We understood that if we wanted to be successful, we didn't want to be one-and-done at playoff time, we had better become more competitive."

Roster changes helped make it happen.

"We felt at the start of the year that we were going to be a faster team but that we could get bigger," said Draper. "That's exactly what (GM) Kenny Holland did at the trade deadline by adding the size of Todd Bertuzzi.

"When he's finishing his checks, everyone is looking on the ice to see where Todd is.

"That's obviously a presence that's been huge for our hockey club."

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Goaltending of Giguere and Hasek dictates low-scoring Western final