Expect fowl play in final

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

The Penguins were young.

The Devils were small.

The Sabres were fancy.

The Ducks are just skilled and nasty.

"I haven't seen them much," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said yesterday, "but I think this will be the most physical series we've played in the playoffs."

Indeed, Anaheim has some beef up front. Dustin Penner is 6-foot-4, 240 lbs. Ryan Getzlaf is 6-foot-4 and 210 lbs. Rob Niedermayer and Travis Moen are both over 6-foot-2 and 200 lbs.

But the toughest Duck to play against is Chris Pronger, the tall and talented defenceman who is just as liable to elbow a guy's face into the glass as he is to blast home a goal from the point.

Ask Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom.

For the Senators to outlast the Ducks in the Stanley Cup final, they're likely going to have to survive any and all abuse from a team that likes to play it rough, including what'll they get from Pronger in front of the net and along the boards in the defensive zone.

Chris Neil, meanwhile, is anxious to set a tone of his own.

''If I'm in position to finish a check, I'm going to finish a check," Neil said when asked about running up against Pronger. "I don't care who it is."

Should be quite the crash-and-bang series. Last team standing gets a big gulp from the cup of all cups.

THIS AND THAT

The film study sessions start now. The past few days, Ray Emery hasn't exactly been sitting on the edge of his seat with pen and pad, scribbling down tendencies of shooters from both Anaheim and Detroit, just to make sure all his bases were covered. The Senators goalie wasn't secretly cheering for either the Ducks or the Wings in Tuesday's Western Conference clincher, either. "I didn't watch it," Emery shrugged yesterday. So what did you do instead? "I was just chillin', man," he said with a smile ... A memory that often pops to mind when I see Pronger getting tough with an opponent: It is the spring of 1992 and the 67's are in Peterborough taking on the Petes. Bad blood is boiling over between the teams. For whatever reason, 5-foot-11 Jeff Ricciardi decides he has to fight 6-foot-6 Pronger. He throws down his gloves. He rips off his helmet. He moves in for the punch-up. He stops in his tracks. The scrap is over before it began for one reason: Pronger was holding his stick like a baseball bat, and that's the only way he was prepared to battle Ricciardi ... What's the over/under on the number of games it takes Ducks GM Brian Burke to flip his lid about something? Two?

FLEETING OBSERVATIONS

If you cut your imagination some slack, you can see some Senators and Ducks are a mirror reflection of each other, whether by style or appearance. Ex-Oiler speedsters Dean McAmmond and Todd Marchant. Lanky, shifty, right-hand shooting stars Jason Spezza and Getzlaf. Smooth-skating veteran defencemen Wade Redden and Scott Niedermayer. Just plain fast Antoine Vermette and just plain fast Andy McDonald. And, of course, the two classy, high-scoring wingers who are finally getting a shot at the mug -- Alfredsson and Teemu Selanne ... When Eugene Melnyk bought the Senators, he threw a party for season-ticket holders (and his wife). The best band ever (with the possible exception of Blue Rodeo) performed live at the Corel Centre. The first song The Eagles performed that night -- Hotel California. Four years later, his team has booked reservations in the Stanley Cup final and, in the process, a hotel in California.

SNAP SHOT

Best junior fight we ever witnessed was between Ricciardi and Brad May, who's now a teammate of Pronger's, at the old barn in Niagara Falls. Best stories we ever heard told in a dressing room came from Sabres' May, Rob Ray, Matthew Barnaby and Dixon Ward during the Senators' first playoff appearance 10 years ago. For a guy who seems to have been around forever, May still contributed an average ice time of 7:30 per night through 13 playoff games for Anaheim. Bet on hearing from him in some form or fashion over the next 2O weeks.

HE SAID IT

"I'm the captain of the team. If we don't win, I think I should take a lot of the criticism. If the team is doing well and I do well, I'm going to get a lot of the accolades as well."

-- Alfredsson, on the heat he has received in playoffs past.

"They were tough times. We didn't know what was going to happen. A lot of players bought seasons tickets to help the drive, to get a bigger season-ticket base. All I can say is, we're very happy to be able to stay, to be here in Ottawa."

-- Alfredsson, on the financial difficulties and franchise uncertainty before Melnyk rode to the rescue.


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