No reason Ducks can't win tonight

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:01 AM ET

ANAHEIM -- It's closing time. And the Anaheim Ducks know how to close.

With the opportunity to end a series at home, they're 3-0 in the playoffs this year.

They're 7-0 in their history.

In two finals, they're 5-0 at home.

But will it be different with the Stanley Cup in the house and the butterflies that come from knowing they'd become the first West Coast team in the modern day history of the NHL - the first since the 1925 Victoria Cougars - to win it?

One win away and it's like trying to ignore the elephant in your living room.

"We're not into discussing those things," said coach Randy Carlyle.

"Obviously we've worked extremely hard to become an elite hockey club and organization to try and put this at the forefront in our market. But we've got a hockey game to play. That's the most important thing. We're not into discussing any of those things. All this other stuff is stuff that we let other people discuss."

A lot of people wrote the Oilers off when Edmonton was down three games to one in this situation last year. That went seven.

MOST THINK IT'S OVER

It's almost impossible to find anybody around this series who figures the season doesn't end tonight. And those are the people Carlyle would have preferred to keep his team away from here yesterday.

"We discussed that after the game, discussed it today and we'll discuss it again," he said of getting giddy about being one win away, getting overexcited thinking about carrying the Cup instead of playing the game you have to play to win it first.

"It's about people understanding the situation and recognizing that the opportunity doesn't come every year."

The Ducks have Scott Niedermayer, a player who has won everything including three Stanley Cups. They have Teemu Selanne with 15 years in the league. They have three Ducks who lost the final in 2003 plus a whole bunch of never-been close guys like Todd Marchant and all the terrific young talent.

Selanne was, unusually, a man of few words yesterday.

"It's exciting," he said. "I'm trying to stay focused."

Marchant said the tough part is going to be waiting for the opening faceoff.

"The most difficult thing is the time in between. Once the game starts, it's hockey."

Or so they hope.

"We have to ignore all the other outside distractions - and you guys in the media are one of them," said Carlyle.

"We understand we have a responsibility to the media. We understand we have a responsibility to friends and family. But we have to be selfish. Whatever things there are out there have to be pushed to the side and remain there."

That's been easier here than in a Canadian city. Until now. The Ducks are coming home to something which hasn't existed here ever before.

It took long enough, but Stanley Cup fever finally hit Anaheim.

There's no 'Red Mile' or 'Whyte Avenue' thing going like in Calgary and Edmonton. There's no scene in front of Parliament Hill or on Elgin Street in Ottawa. But, at last there's something.

NO FLAVOUR OR FEVER

In bars near the Honda Centre, during the Western Conference final when the Ducks played in Detroit, there was no evidence of any flavour, much less fever.

"My buddies watched the game in a sports bar and couldn't even get the sound because they had the Angels game on the bigger TV sets. It just wasn't a hockey atmosphere," reported Joffrey Lupul, the Duck traded to the Edmonton Oilers for Chris Pronger.

But Monday night, bars all over the areas had "Watch Ducks Games Here" signs and were full of fans, many wearing Duck jerseys.

TV news featured scenes from several bars with Duck fans going nuts. I even saw a car with a Ducks flag in the window. And the entire front page of the Orange County Register, with a wrap-around four-page special, featured Ducks coverage.

What might it be like if Anaheim wins the Stanley Cup tonight?

Will the Stanley Cup parade be at Disneyland?

The answers, you have to believe, will be supplied sooner rather than later.


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