Sunday, June 09, 2002

Lidstrom, Hedican win ironman awards

AP Sports Writer

        RALEIGH, N.C. — Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom and Carolina's Bret Hedican claimed the ironman awards in the third longest Stanley Cup finals game ever.

        Lidstrom played 52 minutes of a game that ended with about five minutes left in the third overtime, while Hedican logged 49 1/2 minutes.

        Both players are defensemen.

        Others who played more than 40 minutes included Chris Chelios of the Red Wings, and Sean Hill and Aaron Ward of the Hurricanes.

        Some players didn't mind the length of the game.

        “It taxes your body but I didn't feel bad going into any of the overtimes,” said Carolina's Bates Battaglia, who played more than 37 minutes. “I felt pretty good actually, but I'm sure that wasn't the case for everybody.”

        It remains to be seen how Detroit, with an average age of 30.8, bounces back for Game 4 on Monday night. Carolina's average age is 28.5.

        “We got a whole day, we've got lots of time for rest,” Kirk Maltby said. “They played just as long as we did.”


        FAIR FACEOFFS: Scotty Bowman has coached in the NHL for 30 years and still doesn't know how the league can make faceoffs better.

        His Detroit Red Wings won 55 percent of the faceoffs in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals and 60 percent in Game 2 over the Carolina Hurricanes — the best faceoff team in the NHL during the regular season.

        While Bowman admits he has clutch faceoff men like Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov and Kris Draper, he also believes the home team almost always gets the edge in the battle of the draws.

        The home team is allowed to place the stick on the ice last, meaning that player can often get position and time the drop of the puck by the linesman. The first two games were played at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit

        “It's been a concern for years — how do you do them?” Bowman said Saturday. “People don't want the games delayed. They don't want the linesmen throwing out a bunch of players. It's a constant issue.”

        Carolina coach Paul Maurice would agree. After watching tape of the first two games, he believes things could have been done more fairly in the circle.

        “We would like to see some of the faceoffs even out a little bit in terms of positioning when the puck is dropped,” Maurice said. “But they do have very good faceoff men.”

        Carolina won 55 percent of the faceoffs Saturday night.


        SCREENING WARD: Defenseman Aaron Ward has found a way to deal with numerous ticket requests for Carolina's home playoff games — use his wife Kelly as a telephone screener.

        “My wife has been great,” Ward said. “People have been calling and wondering if I actually do live at home because she screens the calls.”

        Ward has been through this routine before, having won two Stanley Cups with the Red Wings before being traded to the Hurricanes this season.

        “We did the smart thing. We realized what the crush for tickets was going to be like,” Ward said. “We took care of the tickets before the series started.”

        Ward said he had 22 tickets for the series, having bought some extras through the player-ticket plan.

        “Two days prior to the puck dropping we had it all done and people knew we had no more tickets,” he said.

        Still, the phone didn't stop ringing.

        “I've had some people like Bob, who lived two streets over from me back in 1993 who I saw at the grocery store and talked to me once wanted to know if he could get tickets in Raleigh,” Ward said. “I was like, "Sorry.”'

        Ward said he hasn't lost many friends in the process.

        “I didn't have many to start with,” he said.


        BEARDED WONDER: Just what is the protocol with trimming beards during the NHL playoffs?

        Jeff O'Neill and the Carolina Hurricanes have never been this far in the postseason, so the right wing has left his facial hair alone.

        “The beard is a bit of problem right now,” O'Neill said. “I feel like Tom Hanks in "Castaway,' it just keeps growing and growing. It's getting out of control.”

        O'Neill said some of his teammates have trimmed their beards some, but he choose to keep the clippers in the case.

        “It's not a lot for the looks category,” O'Neill said of the playoff tradition of growing facial hair.

        Then teammate Bates Battaglia chimed in: “He needs all the help he can get, too.”


        MILD MATCHUPS: Maurice gets the final line change as the home coach for Games 3 and 4, but he won't be spending much time watching Bowman's moves.

        Bowman tinkers with his lines as much as any coach in the NHL.

        “In the Colorado series I started to go through and write down the combinations and after my third pen ran out I just said, "Hey, this is costing me too much money.' I am not smart enough to figure it out,” Maurice said.

        While Maurice likes to get Ron Francis and Rod Brind'Amour on the ice for certain faceoff situations, Bowmen will mix and match his entire lines on feel sometimes.

        “There is never that, "Oh, we finally got them, they have five guys (on the ice) that can't play,”' Maurice said. “We're not waiting for that to happen. So the matchups at this point are quite a bit looser than you may expect in a Stanley Cup final.”


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