Stanley Cup Finals Notebook
Carol Niedermayer backs Rob over Scott in finalsPosted: Monday May 26, 2003 7:28 PM
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Mom Niedermayer didn't make many fans for herself in the New Jersey Devils' locker room.
Carol Niedermayer of Cranbrook, British Columbia, is the envy of hockey moms everywhere with not one, but two sons in the Stanley Cup final: two-time champion Scott of the Devils and hopes-to-be-champion Rob of the Mighty Ducks.
In a perfect world, she said, the Mighty Ducks will beat the Devils so both sons will have won the Stanley Cup. That sentiment didn't go over well among the Devils, who are ragging Scott Niedermayer about his own mother rooting against him.
"I got a lot of grief from my teammates," Scott Niedermayer said. "It might backfire on my mom ... hopefully, my brother will have another chance somewhere down the road."
His mom's proclaimed allegiance to the Ducks in this series didn't divide the family; Bob and Carol Niedermayer are staying at Scott's house for Games 1 and 2.
A few days from now, they also might resemble the TV ratings for what could be one of the lowest-rated finals ever.
Even in Canada, where hockey is king, TV ratings were way down during the conference finals, although they picked up for the Devils-Senators Game 7.
On average, about 1.4 million viewers watched the conference finals on Canadian TV, down from about 2.3 million a year ago. ESPN only wishes it could draw audiences that big; its playoff telecasts are averaging slightly more than a half-million viewers per night.
This will be the first time every game in the Stanley Cup final will be televised in high-definition; ESPN HD carries the first two games, ABC gets the rest. But the high technology won't translate into high ratings. Only a handful of cable systems offer the ESPN HD signal; neither of the two satellite services (DirecTV or Dish Network) carries it.
By the numbers
Anaheim was barely on the radar screen for many hockey fans until its stunning upsets of Detroit and Dallas. What often is overlooked is the Ducks weren't a one-month phenomenon.
The Mighty Ducks won only one fewer game that the Red Wings during the second half of the season. They also tied the Devils for the most one-goal wins (24) in the league, and the Ducks and the Devils had the league's two best penalty-killing units.
What is remarkable: the Mighty Ducks advanced to the Stanley Cup final without having even one of the Top 15 playoff scorers.
During the Stanley Cup playoffs, teams feel fortunate to get one or two days off. To the Mighty Ducks, their unprecedented 10 days off between games must feel like an offseason.
That's why coach Mike Babcock scrimmaged his players last week during practices he said resembled those during training camp.
"I think I was more tired after a couple of practices, I think, than some of the games," Rob Niedermayer said. "He was really putting us through our paces. I think as far as being rusty or anything, that's not going to be the case."
Historically, long layoffs aren't a disadvantage. Six teams previously had breaks of a week or more before the finals; five went on to win the Cup. Only Buffalo (1999) didn't. Four of the six won Game 1.
The fans attending Game 1 at Continental Airlines Arena might want to settle in for a long night. Each of the Mighty Ducks' first three Game 1s lasted multiple overtimes, and they won each one.
The Mighty Ducks beat Detroit 2-1 in two overtimes in the conference quarterfinals, Dallas 4-3 in five overtimes in the semifinals and Minnesota 1-0 in two overtimes in the Western Conference final.
Two-thirds of the "A" Line that carried the Devils to the 2000 Stanley Cup championship will be reunited this week. Petr Sykora, who teamed with Patrik Elias and Jason Arnott to form one of the best lines in Devils' history, now plays for the Mighty Ducks.
Looking to freshen up his team last summer, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello traded Sykora to the Mighty Ducks in a deal involving Jeff Friesen, who scored three game-winning goals in the Ottawa series.
The deal split up longtime friends Sykora and Elias, but they still talk at least once a week.
"I'm still very close to Patrik," Sykora said. "When I look at the highlights, I always look to see if Patty scored. ... I was getting used to new players, and he was playing with other players, too. It was kind of a new experience for him, too."
Arnott scored the game-winning overtime goal in Game 6 of the 2000 Stanley Cup final that carried the Devils past the defending champion Stars. Arnott now plays for Dallas.
Ducks coach Mike Babcock led his team to the Stanley Cup final in his first season on the job, yet isn't a finalist for the Jack Adams Trophy given to the coach of the year. ... New Jersey is 8-1 at home in the playoffs, Anaheim is 6-1 on the road. ... The Mighty Ducks, who joined the NHL in 1993, can become the fourth-youngest franchise to win a Cup. Edmonton won after five seasons in the league in 1984, but the Oilers played six years in the WHA. ... For the first time since 2000, the Presidents' Trophy winner won't win the Stanley Cup. Colorado (2001) and Detroit (2002) turned league-best regular seasons into Stanley Cup titles. Ottawa had the best record this season.