May 27, 2003
Postcard: Stanley Cup Finals Preview

As these Stanley Cup Playoffs have progressed, much has been made of the big-screen origins of the Mighty Ducks’ nickname – even here at INCH, while predicting their sweep past Detroit (yeah right), we included the obligatory Emilio Estevez reference.

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But if that’s the only movie on your mind as you watch Anaheim and New Jersey tangle in the Cup finals, you haven’t been paying attention. To wit:

Start with Conn Smythe-in-waiting J-S Giguere, who has demonstrated the powers of Jim Carrey in Bruce Almighty throughout the Ducks’ improbable run. Of course, it helps that his pads resemble the plastic suit Eddie Murphy wore in The Nutty Professor. If the Ducks take home the Cup, Giguere won’t just be big – he’ll be Rueben from American Idol big.

At the other end of the ice, you’ll hear more about Martin Brodeur’s Fatal Attraction-like love life than his goaltending, but he’s clearly the key to the Devils. Then again, neither of these goalies will have to be spectacular if the two teams line up on their blue lines, national anthem style, and just pass the puck back and forth.

That’s what some expect from this matchup, which has been in the works since the Devils perfected their alternate, Matrix-like universe, nine years ago. The Ducks are clearly among the legions of Devils worshippers, as these two teams have been compared more than The In-Laws and My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Hockey purists bemoan the fact that skilled, skating teams like Ottawa or Vancouver couldn’t make it this far; apparently, those teams needed Keanu Reeves.

As skilled as Ottawa is, everyone knows that come playoff time they stick around as long as family of four that accidentally walks into Old School instead of Finding Nemo. The Sens somehow stumbled into the third round this year, further paving the Devils’ road to the finals – a “grueling” postseason that also included cakewalks Boston and Tampa Bay.

Finally, let’s consider the case of the series’ Grumpy Old Man, Anaheim’s Adam Oates, who plays the Ray Bourque/Luc Robitaille role of the veteran whose career won’t be complete without a Cup. No word yet if Oates would pull a Bourque and take the Cup on parade through Philadelphia, Washington, Boston, St. Louis and Detroit if he won.

We don’t think he’ll ever have the chance. INCH Prediction: Devils in six.

Campuses the Cup Could Visit: Players who win the Stanley Cup get a chance to spend a day with it sometime during the following summer. Often that means the Cup finds its way to a college campus.

The Cup gets to go to some great places, and as you can imagine, it’s treated like royalty wherever it goes. But we’ve got a couple of road trips in mind, depending on who wins it.

Keith Carney and Paul Kariya, a couple of former Black Bears, could swing by Alfond Arena. And no visit to Orono would be complete without giving the Cup a tour of Pat’s Pizza.

Out West, Brian Rafalski should share the joys of Madison, Wisc., with the Cup. If he and the Devils win it, we’ll ask The Dean to save us a table at the Nitty Gritty.

– Nate Ewell

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