California dreamin'

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:15 AM ET

These days, most of them arrive at their home rink in capris, the stylish pants that travel two-thirds down the leg and was formerly worn only by girls.

For sure, they'll blend right in with all the trendy Californians next week.

The Laguna Beach look can't turn into a mindset for the Senators if they are to return home from Anaheim with anything more than a sunburn, however.

The big 'D' in Ducksville is Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer and Francois Beauchemin, but it also stands for Distraction.

"The players will get focused," coach Bryan Murray said yesterday. "There will be no reason for me to say anything to them.

"They know what's at stake."

Ray Emery, in fact, believes the setting for Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup final is ideal.

"I'm kind of a guy who likes to take my mind away from hockey," said Emery, who's becoming the most-interviewed of Senators and has no problem with that status. "Being on the other side of the country, with the warm weather ... it should be relaxing. Probably just what I need when I'm away from the game."

It's still hard to imagine there can be any type of serious hockey atmosphere in California, the land of beaches and babes.

But let's ask Tom Preissing, someone who should know after spending two seasons with the San Jose Sharks.

"There will be inside the arena," said the Senators defenceman. "The one thing you need to realize is there's so many people in that area ... even if there's 200,000 or 500,000 who are loving hockey, there are millions more who have no clue.

"The hockey lover to non-hockey lover ratio is superior in Canada than it is in California."

But they must still have a higher percentage of capri wearers, despite the efforts of Senators to close that Gap.

KNOW THINE ENEMY

Dany Heatley agrees that going eight days without contact shouldn't be a big deal for the Senators. But he did see a couple of hits in yesterday's black-white intrasquad game at Scotiabank Place. How many? "Let's see, in our building, a home game ... there were probably five," estimated Heatley, who then offered his own opinion of how that particular stat is kept around the NHL. "In some rinks they throw them out like candy. In some rinks they're a lot tougher to come by." ... Heatley did notice that, on one shift, a train could have ran over a deer. Thank goodness for brakes. "I think (Anton) Volchenkov had (Jason) Spezza lined up pretty good," said Heatley. "If it was a real game, I don't know if Spetz would be around right now." ... Mike Comrie is wondering what all the fuss is about the Senators' Heatley-Spezza-Daniel Alfredsson combination anyway. "Team Black won today," proclaimed Comrie, who wore the dark coloured jerseys with linemates Mike Fisher and Peter Schaefer. "And we were the first to really contain that top line in the playoffs. I think they might have been a dash (minus) two. But hey, we don't need to make enemies. Let's just let everyone know that." Done.

THIS AND THAT

As almost always, Emery provided a couple of good clips yesterday. Asked if off the ice he has matured from his more younger, whacky days, Emery had a chuckle. "Not really," he said. "I think I'm going the opposite way. I'm getting kind of goofy." He should feel right at home near Disneyland then ... When it was pointed out to Emery that the last two goaltenders Martin Gerber has backed up (Anaheim's J.S. Giguere and Cam Ward of the Carolina Hurricanes) have won the Conn Smythe Trophy, he stopped any talk of a possible three-peat. "I think Alfie's got that one won right now," Emery said of the post-season MVP award ... The good people of Edmonton are being asked by certain media which Cup finalist they're supporting -- hated ex-Oiler Pronger or hated ex-Oiler Comrie. Likely neither player cares one way or the other. All they know is that they weren't hit by a snowstorm yesterday.

Working the corners

It was mentioned to Antoine Vermette that his playoff chin beard looks like it has been growing for awhile. "Yeah," chuckled the team's face-off expert. "About 24 years now." ... Somebody in the local media misspelled the name of Chris Phillips' first daughter. It's Zoe (with two little dots over the 'e'), not Zowie. Then, such errors would not occur if he called her Sue. "You might get that one wrong too," Phillips correctly pointed out ... He turned the team around after a horrible start, he convinced the players to buy into a system that made them near unbeatable (and one they are still feeding off) when they were swarmed by injury bugs and, after all ballots were in, proved himself further by outthinking the likes of Michel Therrien, Lou Lamoriello and Lindy Ruff -- tell me again why Bryan Murray didn't even get consideration for the Jack Adams Trophy as the NHL's coach of the year?


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