A question to ponder as the Stanley Cup finals begin:
Are the Anaheim Mighty Ducks too good for their own good?
On the ice
The Ducks enter the Stanley Cup playoffs after a 10-day layoff. The usual adage of wanting your potential opponent to be worn out by a seven-game series while you wait and rest doesn't apply here.
In a bizarre twist of fate and scheduling, the New Jersey Devils are actually in better shape because of their longer seven-game playoff series against the Ottawa Senators. And despite going seven games, the Devils still have the luxury of three full days off, a nearly perfect window of time to get healed and yet stay sharp.
If the finals had been moved up a couple of days, the Ducks might actually have some sort of edge, but the building schedules, holiday schedule and TV demands made that impossible.
Consider this: If the Ducks sweep -- or are swept -- they will have played only nine home games, just one more than the fewest possible. If that happens, instead of the playoffs being a financial windfall, the Ducks' profit also will be one more game's worth than the minimum.
Indeed, the Ducks arrived at the finals having played only seven home dates, one fewer than the Vancouver Canucks who were eliminated in the second round, the same number as the Philadelphia Flyers who were also knocked out in the second round.
The other Cinderella team in the playoffs were the Minnesota Wild, the team the Ducks banished in the conference finals. And while the Ducks ultimately won the glass slipper, it was the Wild who got the gold slipper. Though the Wild were swept in the conference finals, they played a total of eight home games in three rounds, thanks to seven-game series against Colorado and Vancouver.
Then again, if the Ducks are hoisting the Cup at the Pond after Game 4, it's unlikely even the beancounters would complain.
Clarke poised for more moves
The Dallas Stars will have a tough time finding a taker for Pierre Turgeon -- and they might not be alone. The Philadelphia Flyers might find themselves in the same boat with John LeClair.
Unlike the Stars, who can not come to an agreement with Turgeon on a buy out, the Flyers have the option of buying out LeClair. However, the more likely scenario is that the Flyers will try to deal LeClair, taking on part of his contract in order to get a younger forward, one who makes a lot less than LeClair's $9 million per season.
The Flyers will also be in the market for a goalie. While Bob Clarke got a ton of heat from chairman Ed Snider for announcing that Roman Cechmanek would not be back at a news gathering -- before he informed the coaches or ownership -- the Flyers GM might have been sending a message to free agents such as Jeff Hackett and Felix Potvin, letting them know they shouldn't sign anything until checking with the Flyers on July 1.
Much like the Flyers did with Jeremy Roenick two summers ago, teams are starting to line up free agents before July 1 in hopes of beating the rush. Would the Flyers use the final year of the present collective bargaining agreement to sign Jean-Sebastien Giguere, a Group II free agent, to an offer sheet, sending the Ducks scrambling to match?
Is Sather his own choice?
Insiders at the New York Rangers have a suspicion that Glen Sather is going to go through his interview process with coaches, and then decide that he will try to do the job again at least for the start next season. The Rangers will also venture into the free agent market again, but not with the usual targets of marquee names such as Teemu Selanne.
Farewell to Fedorov?
The fact that Sergei Fedorov has not already agreed to an offer from the Detroit Red Wings should be a warning sign that the All-Star forward won't be returning to Hockeytown. Fedorov recently turned down an offer for four years at $40 million, after turning down a five-year, $50 million deal during the season.
After they ask themselves how badly Fedorov really wants to stay in Detroit, they should look down the road: Do they want to commit to a player they'll be unable to trade if there is a salary cap?
Did anybody notice that referee Kerry Fraser did not work Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on Friday? Fraser remains the premier NHL official, and you have to wonder what sort of decisions are being made when he is left out of the mix for such a huge game.
The last line of defense
Over the course of the next couple of weeks there will be much talk about systems, coaching philosophies, and how to build a team. However, the very bottom line is a bottom line that very often dictates success in the NHL and the playoffs -- look at the guys in goal.
Sometimes it is so very simple.
Al Morganti covers the NHL for ESPN.