Work in Sports
Elias, Sykora, Arnott turning it up at right time for Devils
Posted: Tuesday June 06, 2000 12:14 AM
By David Vecsey, CNNSI.com
DALLAS -- Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora didn't stay in Larry Robinson's doghouse very long.
So it's back to the penthouse for the young Czech mates and their blossoming center Jason Arnott, who are turning these Stanley Cup finals into one wild elevator ride.
"Unbelievable," said Robinson after his top line accounted for both goals in a 2-1 victory over Dallas in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals. Just a day earlier, Robinson had let on as to how he regretted not benching the pair during Thursday's loss in Game 2 ... that coming two days after the three players combined for 11 points in a 7-3 victory in Game 1.
"I told Patrik Elias after the game I was very proud of both of them," said Robinson. "I talked to them before and I think nobody feels worse than they do that they didn't come out and have a good game in Game 2.
What better role model to center the two young wingers than Arnott, who has spent most of his seven-year career being called on the carpet by his coaches for lackluster efforts. All that seems to have changed in New Jersey, where Arnott is the No. 1 center and quickly emerging as a Conn Smythe candidate.
He scored the Devils' first goal Saturday, muscling his way through two strong characters in Derian Hatcher and Dave Manson before poking the puck with one hand past Ed Belfour, tying the game 1-1 late in the first period.
Sykora scored the game-winner midway through the second, blasting a riser from the blue line that hit Belfour's catching mitt at about 100 mph and fluttered into the net at about 50.
With his ninth goal of the playoffs, Sykora remained one ahead of Arnott for the team lead. Arnott, however, with a goal and an assist moved ahead of Elias for the team points lead with 19. Elias, though scoreless Saturday, leads the team with a plus-9 rating.
Arnott said the three got together as usual on the morning of a game and came to a mutual understanding.
"This morning we were actually pretty quiet," he said. "We knew what we had to do to get out of it. There was no talk about it. We felt we could play better and contribute more."
Elias stormed away when asked about his reaction to his coach's challenge. But Sykora was glad to demonstrate the lessons he had been taught. You half expected him to start writing lines on any available chalkboard.
"We have to be more responsible and not turn the puck over so much," he recited. "Me, Patty and Arnie, we all have moves 1-on-1. But it's best not to use them sometimes. It's not about making offensive plays. It's about winning."
Two more trips to the penthouse and they'll have all summer to enjoy the view.