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Postcard from the Western Conference Finals

Saturday, 05.19.2007 / 12:00 AM / News
Dallas Stars
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Postcard from the Western Conference Finals
By Ralph Strangis

Hello Stars fans. This is Ralph Strangis coming to you somewhere over the Rocky Mountains. Once again this season I've been given the task of ice-level reporter for NHL Radio for the Western Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Finals.

We are in the midst of the Western Conference Finals with the series tied at two games apiece between Anaheim and Detroit. I'm heading back to Detroit for Game Five on Sunday afternoon. From a city standpoint, there's no comparison. You'd rather be in sunny Southern California. However, what I really wanted was a San Jose-Anaheim West Final so that it would be two weeks in California, but that didn't happen.

So now we head back to what might be the hardest building in the hardest city in the National Hockey League (Joe Louis Arena). I've also discovered there is actually a worse place to work a game than the press box of Joe Louis Arena and it is the bowels of Joe Louis Arena. I've been roaming underneath the stands, having beer spilled on me, rat traps are all over the place (and I'm not kidding), and during the overtime of Game Two I was literally under the bleachers right next to Chris Osgood behind the Detroit bench and could not see a thing. But I had to report from ice level like I could see something. The only thing I could see was Henrik Zetterberg changing his gloves because the dryer was about two feet from me.

So when you talk about glamour in the National Hockey League, you do not start with Detroit.

Good Eats

You know, one thing I've noticed while covering the West Finals is that all we really do is eat, even more than we do during the regular season. The National Hockey League is tremendous about making sure that the media crew covering the series is out at good restaurants every night. And we're just eating all the time. You eat breakfast and then you eat lunch and then you eat at the game. Then of course, there's the full-on gathering of all the media after the game at a Morton's Steak House or something similar and everyone usually jumps in on that. It just never ends. That's the fun part -- it's all the guys from CBC and TSN and VERSUS, as well as the local broadcasters. It's kind of like a mini convention with all of the print and broadcast media that are there.

On the off-day in Anaheim, I went with Eddie Olczyk up to Hollywood Park where the scenery was tremendous but I'm sad to say that we did not profit from our excursion.

We've been having a great time covering this West Final, and a lot of that is due to some good people working the games.

Mostly, the players have been great to deal with in this series (as most NHL players are, no matter what the circumstances). Although both team PR staffs are doing a good job, they have reinforced the feeling I have for our PR crew there in Dallas and the great job they do for us on a daily basis. Both Detroit and Anaheim have been very accommodating and have tried very hard to make sure that we get all of our requests. Actually, NHL Radio is very high up on the food chain and they have been great in getting us the players we need. I've interviewed just about everybody of note on both rosters, including J.S. Giguere and Nik Lidstrom, and the list goes on and on. Basically I can get my pick of who I want to talk to every night and that's been good.

A Best of Three

I've pretty much been wrong in every game of this series when it's come down to picking a winner prior to the contest. The Anaheim people asked me what I thought prior to Game Four and I said, "You know, I've been wrong every night so based on that I'm going to take the Ducks tonight because I really think it's Detroit."

I thought from the beginning of the series that Anaheim was the better team and that they just had more. Then there's the other side in Detroit, that is aging a bit and its core is made up of older veterans, but they do have some good younger skill that blends in nicely with that team. But Hasek is defying age and so is Chelios, and Lidstrom is 37 and he's playing like he's 27.

To me this is a real "pick-em" series right now. I honestly could see either team winning it. If I had to pick a winner, I honestly do not know what I would do. Maybe you pick Detroit because they at the #1 seed and they have two of the three games at home. But Anaheim is a good squad and can win on the road. This one could go either way. Should be fun to watch, regardless.


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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 NSH 62 41 14 7 188 147 89
2 ANA 62 38 17 7 182 174 83
3 STL 61 39 18 4 190 152 82
4 CHI 62 37 20 5 183 146 79
5 WPG 63 31 20 12 174 170 74
6 VAN 61 35 23 3 174 162 73
7 MIN 61 32 22 7 173 160 71
8 LAK 60 29 19 12 162 153 70
9 CGY 61 33 24 4 174 158 70
10 SJS 62 30 24 8 173 177 68
11 DAL 61 27 25 9 191 202 63
12 COL 61 26 24 11 161 175 63
13 ARI 62 20 35 7 137 210 47
14 EDM 62 18 34 10 142 206 46

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Benn 61 23 37 -1 60
T. Seguin 55 29 30 0 59
J. Spezza 61 14 37 -3 51
E. Cole 56 18 14 4 32
J. Klingberg 47 10 22 4 32
T. Daley 58 16 15 -11 31
A. Hemsky 55 9 17 -7 26
A. Goligoski 61 2 24 4 26
C. Eakin 58 12 13 -3 25
A. Roussel 59 11 11 -11 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
K. Lehtonen 25 13 9 .906 2.96
J. Enroth 13 24 2 .900 3.31
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