2003 NHL Playoffs 2003 NHL Playoffs

2003 Stanley Cup Finals Series Capsule

No. 2 New Jersey (46-20-10-6) vs. No. 7 Anaheim (40-27-9-6)
2002-03 series record: Devils 2-0

How They Got Here: Eastern Champion New Jersey beat No. 7 Boston 4-1, No. 3 Tampa Bay 4-1 and No. 1 Ottawa 4-3; Western Champion Anaheim beat No. 2 Detroit 4-0, No. 1 Dallas 4-2 and No. 6 Minnesota 4-0.

The Devils almost didn't make it to their third finals in four years, but they held on to beat Ottawa in seven games after taking a 3-1 lead in the East finals. They have given up more than three goals just twice in 17 playoff games this year. This series will focus largely on defense and goaltending. Martin Brodeur gave up an early shaky goal in Game 7 and then only allowed one more the rest of the way. Jamie Langenbrunner paced New Jersey through its first two rounds, scoring seven goals. He was held without one by Ottawa until he scored twice within 1:54 of the second period of Game 7. As much as they enjoy the production from Langenbrunner, defensive specialist John Madden (6 playoff goals), and former Duck Jeff Friesen (5 goals), they want to see more from Patrik Elias. He led the club with 28 goals and 57 points in the regular season, but has only two goals and six points in the playoffs. The Devils will probably be without Joe Nieuwendyk, who injured himself against Ottawa in Game 6 and then was limited to three shifts in the series clincher. Nieuwendyk was looking to make his fourth finals appearance. The status of fellow forward Turner Stevenson is uncertain. He has been plagued by a groin injury that is expected to keep him out at least until the series shifts to Anaheim.

One name: Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Without that wall in the nets, the Mighty Ducks would not be here. He set the tone early against Detroit, and carried through in the next two rounds. Giguere posted a 1.22 goals-against average in going 12-2 in his first appearance in the playoffs, and has stopped 476 of 496 shots. As was the case in the first three rounds, the upstart Ducks will be on the road for the first two games. It hasn't mattered so far, as they became the first team to grab 2-0 leads on the road in three straight series. For the second time, Anaheim will be dealing with a long layoff. The Ducks will have had 10 days off when they finally get back on the ice for Game 1. Paul Kariya is the team leader with five goals. Former Devil Petr Sykora led with 34 regular-season goals, but like his good friend Elias, he has just two in the playoffs. Both, however, were game-winners.

Outlook: From the Angels to the suddenly Mighty Ducks, it's a Disney kind of year. The magic continues.

The Associated Press' prediction: Anaheim in six games.

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