|05-29-2005, 02:21 PM||#1|
lets go partner
Join Date: Oct 2004
Sidney Crosby and the Oceanic prepare for Ottawa in Memorial Cup semifinal
LONDON, Ont. (CP) - Sidney Crosby can expect to see a striped Ottawa 67's jersey coming at him at every turn in the Memorial Cup semifinal Saturday.
The 67's hacked, banged and occasionally mauled the Rimouski Oceanic forward in the round-robin meeting between the two teams Tuesday. Crosby still managed a goal and an assist in a 4-3 victory and he will be called on to produce under pressure again.
The winner of Saturday's semifinal (7 p.m. EDT) meets the host London Knights in Sunday's championship game (4:30 p.m. EDT).
The 17-year-old Crosby is the Canadian Hockey League's leading scorer and MVP. He expects the 67's to come at him and linemates Marc-Antoine Pouliot and Dany Roussin with everything they've got.
"They're going to come and play physical and they should," Crosby said Friday following Rimouski's practice. "When they're doing that, it's never easy to get to the net.
"You have to make sure you work hard to get your chances. If I keep moving my feet and keep doing the things I normally do, the chances are going to be there. I think I'm going to find space."
Ottawa 67's goaltender Danny Battochio left practice Friday after taking a puck in the neck just below his facemask. A hard shot off his left collarbone-shoulder area had forced him out of practice Wednesday.
"Danny's fine. He's a tough goalie," 67's forward Mark Mancari said. "Bad bounce. The ice is a little soft and a little choppy, so the puck got up on him. He's getting iced down and he'll be all right for tomorrow."
The 67's need their workhorse goaltender against the high-flying Oceanic. Ottawa also needs to gain some puck possession in the offensive zone and get some shots on net in order to give their overworked defence a breather and ease Battochio's shot load.
Ottawa plays with an physical edge, but can't afford to go over it against a potent Rimouski power play. If the 67's are overzealous in checking Crosby, it could cost them the game.
"If there is abuse of him, if the referee is calling it and we're on the power-play because of that, that is how it should be," Rimouski coach Doris Labonte said.
Rimouski is a puck possession team that does not stress defence. This Oceanic squad gave up a franchise record 239 goals-against during the regular season.
In their last two games - 4-3 wins over Ottawa and Kelowna - Rimouski looked like a team unaccustomed to protecting a lead in the third period. The defence broke down, giving up two third-period goals in each game, and the team ran into penalty trouble.
"We have to get the lead first," Crosby said. "We don't want to worry about protecting it before we get it. But if we do, we can't sit back.
"We got in trouble doing that a couple of times and running into penalty trouble when we have had the lead."
The Oceanic forwards need to come back and support the breakout from their own zone because Rimouski defencemen have given up two goals in this tournament on interceptions of the first pass out.
Oceanic goaltender Cedrick Desjardins has shown he can handle a high shot load and make some game-saving stops, particularly in the third period when the team defence in front of him has broken down.
If the 67's are successful at tying up Crosby's line, the Oceanic will need others such as defencemen Patrick Coulombe and Mario Scalzo Jr. and forward Zbynek Hrdel to contribute.
"That's their top line and the line that does all their scoring, so the more we hit them and take them out of the play, the better off we'll be," 67's captain Will Colbert said of the Crosby line.
Rimouski, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion, heads into the semifinal with one more day of rest than Ottawa as the Oceanic concluded the round robin by eliminating the Western Hockey League's Kelowna Rockets 4-3 on Wednesday. Ottawa, the Ontario Hockey League runner-up, lost 5-2 to London on Thursday.