Impressed, not scared

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Underdogs? No question.

Impressed by the opponent? Absolutely.

Intimidated by them? Not a chance.

The Manitoba Moose know they're in tough against the Rochester Americans when the AHL North Division final opens here tonight, but they aren't expecting to be down 2-0 when the series shifts to Winnipeg.

"Obviously, it helps that we know we can go in there and win," said Josh Green, referring to a pair of victories at Blue Cross Arena in the first month of the season.

"They're a different team. When we played them at the start of the year they were struggling but just to have that mental dominance over them that we can win in their (building) and that we've had success before is going to help us, for sure."

Even if you throw out two October meetings, the two games in Winnipeg were one-goal games and the Moose had four one-goal leads before losing in overtime in the final regular season matchup, so they proved they can compete with the best team in the AHL (in terms of points).

"We're pretty evenly matched," said Green.

"It's not like one team has got a huge mountain to climb. We can play with these guys."

Moose head coach Randy Carlyle isn't putting too much stock in the regular season series.

"Every inch of ice will have to be earned," added Carlyle. "I wouldn't describe them as playing wide-open. They're a team that has the ability to capitalize if you're careless or if you make fundamental errors, they can really make you pay.

"I'm sure they are going to be very confident because they beat us the last two games in our building, by identical (5-4) scores. They scored 10 goals and we cannot expect to win hockey games or hockey series by giving up five goals a game."

GAMES ON: The local cable companies have stepped up once again to bring the first two games of the series to TV.

Fans looking to tune in can turn to Shaw Cable 82 or MTS TV channel 9, which will be picking up the local feed out of Rochester.

Game 1 begins at 6:05 p.m. while Friday's game starts at 6:35 p.m.

POWERFUL STUFF: As was the case in the opening round series against the St. John's Maple Leafs, discipline will be a big key in the North Division final.

The Americans scored at least one power-play goal in each of the four meetings during the regular season and was 8-for-24 overall (a whopping 33% efficiency rating).

The Moose weren't the only one's to feel the wrath of the Americans power play during the regular season.

Rochester was second among the 28 teams in the AHL, operating at 18.9% with the man advantage, while the penalty kill was 10th in the league (84.3%).

By comparison, the Moose were fifth (18.0%) with the power play and 18th (83.9%) while short-handed.

FAST STARTERS: Outside of the success on the power play, another thing the Americans did against the Moose was have good first periods.

Of the 14 goals scored in the series, Rochester scored seven times in the opening 20 minutes.

Manitoba tallied eight of its 18 goals in the second period.


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