Scott Niedermayer: One win from the Stanley Cup is a feeling unlike any other
Four-time Stanley Cup winner Scott Niedermayer of the Ducks shares his unique perspective and thoughts with The Times' readers during the Stanley Cup finals. Here he reviews Chicago's Game 5 victory over Philadelphia.
One win away from the Stanley Cup, but now comes the biggest challenge for Chicago. I’ve been lucky enough to be in their position a few times, one win from a championship. It’s a feeling unlike any other. You’re tremendously excited, and it’s very hard to control your emotions. I don’t think I’ve ever slept being in that position – I usually have a nap before every game, and I don’t think I’ve managed even two minutes of sleep before a game when you know you can clinch a Stanley Cup. They’re in an exciting position and it’s pretty important that they do their best to focus on what they did last game where they probably played their best game of the series.
I’m sure the leaders in the Chicago locker room will just tell the team to "keep doing what we’ve been doing, focus on what we’ve been trying to do throughout the whole playoffs." I don’t know how much those words really get through, though, because it’s really exciting to be a hockey player and be that close to winning the Stanley Cup. You do your best though … of course you’re going to have your nerves and a bit of excitement before the game starts. But if you settle down quickly, you’re going to have your best chance of winning the Stanley Cup that night.
Another high-scoring game on Sunday. The game, the way it’s played now, it’s very unpredictable. Momentum changes numerous times each period. It’s tough to defend. The defenders aren’t allowed to do a lot of things to slow things down anymore. The offensive guys can control the puck in the offensive zone and they’ve all seem to be doing that.
Dustin Byfuglien really came alive last night. He’s performed so well for Chicago at different times during the playoffs. Then he’s had times where he’s been quiet. So, for him to step up in a big game like this and have the type of game he did was probably a big reason why the Hawks won. He seemed to be playing with a lot more intensity and with a big guy like that, he’s hard to stop.
Chris Pronger didn’t have his best game, but I’m sure he’ll be able to rebound. He’s played many big games and even a great player like him has had some bad ones. He knows how to regroup and refocus … he’s very good at it. I’m pretty confident he’s going to play a strong game on Wednesday.
Michael Leighton had a tough night too, but I think he can regain his confidence. It’s not going to be easy though. Chicago is going to want to finish it off in Philly. On the other hand, Philly has had success back at their rink, so they’ll get back in there and feel good about what they can do, as individuals and as a team. Hopefully they can, I’d like to see a Game 7!
Photo: Chicago's Dustin Byfuglien and Philadelphia's Chris Pronger battle for position during the second period in Game 5 on Sunday. Jeff Haynes / Reuters