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It's Senators' Alfredsson line against Ducks defence in Stanley Cup final

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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It's Senators' Alfredsson line against Ducks defence in Stanley Cup final

The Canadian Press
By:

Game 1 goes Monday night in Anaheim (8 p.m. ET). Centre Jason Spezza and wingers Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley have been the best line in the playoffs, combining for 23 goals and 58 points in 15 games.

The Ducks counter with Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer and Francois Beauchemin at the blue-line, who have each averaged more than 30 minutes of ice time per game in the post-season.

But the Senators can also defend and have Ray Emery playing above expectations in goal, while Anaheim can also score and have rock-solid Jean-Sebastien Giguere in the net.

Here's a look at how the finalists match up:

Forwards

Spezza, Alfredsson and Heatley have scored at least one goal in every playoff game but one and have motored through the best checking lines of Pittsburgh, New Jersey and Buffalo, not to mention solving two of the East's best goalies in Martin Brodeur and Ryan Miller.

They will likely see a lot of Anaheim's excellent checking trio of Samuel Pahlsson, Rob Niedermayer and Travis Moen.

Ottawa hasn't had enough offence from its second line of Mike Fisher, Mike Comrie and Peter Schaeffer (six goals between them), although they've played well defensively.

Anaheim's young second line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Dustin Penner has been its most dangerous, with Getzlaf emerging as a solid power forward, but Teemu Selanne, Andy McDonald and, of late, Todd Marchant have been inconsistent. They're missing injured Chris Kunitz.

Also, Ottawa uses its fourth line nearly twice as much as Anaheim, keeping its top lines fresher.

Advantage: Ottawa.

Defence

One would likely have to go back to the 1970s Montreal Canadiens to find three defencemen as strong as Pronger, Niedermayer and Beauchemin on one team.

Almost always, at least one of them is on the ice, so their defence is rarely overmanned.

Ottawa has seen shot-blocking aces Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov emerge as its top duo and they will likely try to use their size and physical play to counter Getzlaf's line.

If not, Wade Redden and Andrei Meszaros are a strong second duo.

Joe Corvo and Tom Preissing give Ottawa more depth on defence, but Anaheim has the bigger guns.

Advantage: Anaheim.

Goal

Giguere lost his No. 1 ranking after leading Anaheim to the 2003 final, but has won it back with big play in the playoffs. He's 9-3 with a 1.87 goals-against average and a sterling .931 save percentage. He also looks very much in control in his crease.

Ottawa's Ray Emery, who is 12-3 with a 1.95 GAA and a .919 save percentage, has looked steadier and more confident as the playoffs progress but probably won't convince all his detractors until he has a Stanley Cup.

Advantage: Anaheim.

Special teams

The Senators power play has scored on 20 per cent of its chances to 15.3 per cent for Anaheim. Better yet, Ottawa's power play is clicking at 31.2 per cent in road games, where the team is 7-1 in these playoffs.

Penalty killing is close, with Ottawa at 88.6 per cent and Anaheim 87.5 per cent.

Advantage: Ottawa.

Intangibles

The Ducks were in the final in 2003; Ottawa is there for the first time. Neither has ever won.

Anaheim captain Scott Niedermayer has won three Stanley Cups; Ottawa's only ring belongs to backup goalie Martin Gerber.

The Ducks are missing Kunitz, while Ottawa has its full squad healthy.

The Senators are backed by a hockey-mad country, while most of the United States is indifferent to Anaheim.

Advantage: Even.

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It's Senators' Alfredsson line against Ducks defence in Stanley Cup final