With a pair of postseason overtime goals, Adam Deadmarsh has been reborn in L.A.
Shortly before 11 p.m. on Feb. 21, Avalanche right wing Adam Deadmarsh was standing in front of a mirror in the Colorado dressing room combing his freshly washed hair and feeling happier than he'd felt in months. His twin girls, Alexis and Madison, were 12 days old, and although they'd been born six weeks premature, they were healthy. So was Deadmarsh's wife, Christa, whose pregnancy had kept her bedridden for nearly 90 days before the twins were born.
Deadmarsh had just scored two goals in an 8-2 Avalanche win over the Bruins, and he felt excited by the rumors that Colorado was close to acquiring star defenseman Rob Blake from the Kings. Then coach Bob Hartley tapped him on the shoulder. "He said that [general manager] Pierre Lacroix wanted to see me," says Deadmarsh. "I knew I'd been traded. I started thinking about the girls and having to leave Christa after all we'd been through. It was hard to keep it together."
Deadmarsh learned from Lacroix that the Avalanche had dealt him and defenseman Aaron Miller for Blake, center Steve Reinprecht and a No. 1 draft pick "Adam was angry and in really rough shape," says Miller, who sought out Deadmarsh in the dressing room. "He was unapproachable. He told me, 'I'm not flying out with you tomorrow,' and that was it."
Three days later, after long talks with Christa and several visits to the babies in the hospital, Deadmarsh flew to Los Angeles, where he helped the Kings beat the Blue Jackets 3-1. With Deadmarsh usually playing on the first line, L.A. went 12-2-5-2 in its last 21 games to earn a playoff berth. Last week Deadmarsh returned to Colorado as the Kings' postseason hero and helped Los Angeles gain a split in the first two games of Round 2 against the heavily favored Avalanche. "Once I calmed down and realized my family was O.K, I got into playing in L.A.," says Deadmarsh, 25, who'd spent his entire six-year career in the Colorado organization.
The Kings wanted Deadmarsh partly for his scoring touch (he had 17 goals in 57 games in the regular season) but mainly for his grit. In Los Angeles's first-round upset of the Red Wings, the 6-foot, 205-pound Deadmarsh scored twice in overtime, including the Game 6 goal that clinched the series. Against the Avalanche he had an assist in a 4-3 Game 1 win and was his feisty self, leading Kings forwards with 13 hits in the first two games. "It's strange coming back here," said Deadmarsh after an off-day skate at Denver's Pepsi Center last Friday. "Strange, but good."
Home Ice Advantage
It Don't Mean A Thing
Everyone associated with the host team loves a home playoff game. The owner rakes in giant profits (a postseason match generates about $1.5 million in revenue for the home team), the players enjoy pregame snoozes in their own beds, the coaches plot matchups knowing they have the last line change, and the fans get to slug beers in the parking lot. As far as its impact upon a game's outcome, however, home ice means slightly more than diddly-squat: Over the last five postseasons, the home team has won only 53.2% of the time. "As long as I've been in the league," says Devils defenseman Scott Niedermayer, who's in his eighth postseason, "home ice hasn't seemed to matter a whole lot."
So far this spring it has proved especially irrelevant. When the Blues, Kings, Maple Leafs and Penguins each won the first game of their respective second-round series last week, it marked only the second time since 1968 that the road team had won the opener of each quarterfinal series. In Round 1 this season, three teams with home ice advantage, the Flyers, Red Wings and Senators, got bounced, and those that advanced did so largely because of their success away from home. The Blues, Devils and Stars all won decisive Game 6s on the road.
Three main factors can minimize the purported home ice edge: 1) a standout performance by a goalie, 2) a travel schedule that is less grueling than during the regular season and 3) the postseason adrenaline coursing through the players on both teams, which reduces the importance of the home crowd.