Scott Niedermayer: A crazy start to Stanley Cup finals
Four-time Stanley Cup winner Scott Niedermayer of the Ducks will share his unique perspective and thoughts with The Times' readers during the Stanley Cup finals. Today, he reviews the Chicago Blackhawks' 6-5 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1.
A crazy game, without a doubt. Very entertaining and great to watch.
Pretty surprising when both teams suffer similar breakdowns that kept the game close. Most of the time when one team makes mistakes, the game gets out of hand. But it seemed to me both were guilty of the same type of mistakes. Both goalies probably would have liked to have a couple goals back, too. It’s not often this happens to both teams in the same game.
If you play enough games, eventually weird stuff does happen. I thought there were a few reasons why the game went that way.
When two teams meet in the Stanley Cup finals, they’ve only played each other once during the regular season. That familiarity isn’t there. That can lead to a lot of questions about what the opposition does and how they play.
For the first game of the final, I’d imagine everyone is going to be a little bit nervous and a little on edge. Many of these guys are there for the first time. Factor all that in and you get a game like last night. There seemed to be a lot of mistakes made and that led to the goals that were scored. You’re so focused on the game, but some days the puck just has a mind of its own. For whatever reason, strange things happen and they tend to happen in bunches.
I remember being pretty nervous before my first Stanley Cup finals in 1995. I was with New Jersey and we were on the road in Detroit. We were up against a team that had a bunch of veteran and talented players. At the time, there really wasn’t much expectation for us in that series.
We focused on doing what we needed to do and managed to get a couple of wins at Joe Louis Arena. The first opportunity to play in the Stanley Cup finals is a pretty exciting thing for a hockey player.
Chicago’s Troy Brouwer really caught my eye in Game 1. He scored two goals and assisted on another, but he also was playing hard and bringing a strong physical element to his game.
Looking ahead to Game 2, I’m sure both teams are thinking the same things: Play smarter defensively and do not make as many mistakes in your own zone. Both teams are talented offensively and they will want to keep that same type of pressure going as the series moves forward. I would expect both teams to settle in and play the way they normally do on Monday night.
Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer played alongside several of the Flyers and Blackhawks in February while leading Team Canada to the Olympic gold medal at the Vancouver Games. He also played alongside Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger when the Ducks won the Cup.
Photo: Scott Niedermayer. Credit: Los Angeles Times