Moose like a Mercedes: good on the road

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TORONTO -- What's been learned from Manitoba's first two games of the AHL playoffs?

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/04/2009 (5041 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

TORONTO — What’s been learned from Manitoba’s first two games of the AHL playoffs?

That first overall against a divisional fourth seed that made it to the post-season on the last weekend of the regular season isn’t the mismatch it sounds like.

The Moose and Toronto Marlies each struck a blow in Winnipeg, now the best-of-seven North Division semifinal series is down to five games. The next three, beginning this afternoon (3 p.m., CJOB), are in Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum.

It figures to be a tall assignment because of how the Marlies are playing — hard-nosed and intense — and not for the upcoming games’ locations.

That’s because the Moose were the regular-season’s best road team, with 25 wins and 55 of their 107 points.

"Reporters have been talking to us all year about being a better road team than home team," said Moose winger Jason Jaffray, a Game 2 hero with two goals in Manitoba’s 4-2 win. "Home-ice advantage doesn’t mean a whole lot to us, other than in a Game 7, when it will be big.

"We’ve got confidence playing on the road. I don’t know what it is but we’ve had a lot of success and maybe we’re just looser on the road."

Of all their road wins this season, though, none came in Toronto. For what it’s worth, in the four games at Ricoh, two went to extra time but all ended with Toronto wins.

The Moose, though, seemed more worried about having ended a seven-game skid overall against the Marlies in Game 2.

"It’s a relief we finally got off that schneid, got that win under our belt," Jaffray said.

Added Moose coach Scott Arniel: "We didn’t stress long the (Game 1) loss and we’re not going to gloat very long after this one either. We’re going to move forward and put it behind us. Now we’ve got a tough chore in their building for three."

The two biggest factors in Manitoba’s top-ranking in the regular-season standings were goaltending and road record. Or more, road style. The Moose, on the majority of occasions, just seemed impossible to sidetrack from their tactics. Certainly not for very long.

"It’s good, the record we have on the road this year, and it will give us confidence, but on the other hand, it’s a new season," said strong-skating Moose centre Alex Bolduc. "We’re going to have the same mentality we’ve had all year, which is to keep it simple. It’s a key for us on the road. We don’t try to do too much, anything fancy through the middle."

Whatever the location, it seems unlikely the banging, crashing and loud noises from boards and glass is about to subside in this series.

"They’re a physical team, a team that finishes their checks," Arniel said ahead of Game 3. "I like the fact that we did that just as well. We went toe-to-toe, hit-for-hit.

"They have a lot of guys who will run to make or finish their hits. I have to give a lot of credit to our D, hats off, they took some big hits but made some plays still, stuck their noses in there and hung on to those pucks to make those extra passes. It made for good outlets.

"I don’t expect this is going to be any different come Sunday afternoon."

So maybe this series will become one of will, not skill.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

 

For the record

 

Moose traveled to Toronto Saturday, didn’t skate.

Moose record in best-of-seven series in which they have had home-ice advantage: 1-1.

Moose record in the last 10 playoff overtime games: 1-9.

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