Can You Win a Cup with This Guy?
Don't dismiss Anaheim's undersized Andy McDonald. He's not a prototypical top-line center, but his grit and firepower have him wired to battle Detroit in the conference finals
Posted: Tuesday May 8, 2007 11:35AM; Updated: Tuesday May 8, 2007 11:35AM
It's a rough crowd in the Anaheim locker room on the night of May 3. The Ducks have just closed out their Western Conference semifinal series against the Vancouver Canucks, winning Game 5 on Scott Niedermayer's bad-angle, what-the-hell wrist shot from 59 feet in the second overtime. An unofficial assist came from his younger brother, Rob, who had freed up the puck with an organ-jostling, ass-over-bandbox hit on Vancouver winger Jannik Hansen. Across the room from Rob, now recounting that collision to a scrum of reporters, is Brad May (he of the 2,000-plus career penalty minutes) discussing the mucking he did in those final seconds. In the middle of the room stands the formerly handsome
Teemu Selanne, who came out of Game 4 with a shiner, a swollen jaw and stitches over both eyes. ("Thank God I'm already married," he had deadpanned to Ducks broadcaster Brian Hayward.) Selanne's youngest son, Leevi, comes bolting through. What's that snack food in his hand? Is it a Twizzler? A Fruit Roll-Up? Closer inspection reveals that the seven-year-old is eating ... beef jerky.
Taking in the scene from his corner stall is Andy McDonald, who centers Selanne and Chris Kunitz on Anaheim's top line. Pensive, soft-spoken and boyish in appearance despite his playoff beard and 29 years, McDonald is listed as 5'11", 185 pounds. He is every centimeter of that -- if measured in his skates. On a roster replete with players ranging from good-sized (Selanne is 6 feet, 204 pounds) to hulking (6'4", 243-pound winger Dustin Penner is only an inch taller than linemates Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry) to behemoth (defenseman Chris Pronger is 6'6", 220), Andy Mac is something of an anomaly. A Duckling, if you will.
Yet there is nothing small about his game. After Anaheim dealt Sergei Fedorov to the Columbus Blue Jackets in November 2005, McDonald, whom the club had signed in April 2000 as an undrafted free agent out of Colgate, stepped up to center the top line. A drop-off in scoring at that position seemed inevitable. Plagued by concussions early in his career, McDonald was coming off a nine-goal, 30-point season (compared with Fedorov's 31 goals and 34 assists). "There were some rumors about the team shopping around for another centerman," he recalls. "But we got on a bit of a roll, and I started having fun." He blew up, is what he did. Playing next to Selanne, he finished 2005-06 with 34 goals and 51 assists; this season he had 78 points. Selected to his first All-Star Game in January, McDonald also won the NHL's fastest-skater competition on the eve of that annual goal orgy. He has not missed a game in two seasons, during which time he was +40.
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