Which player wins the Zinedine Zidane award for a meltdown during a championship game or series? The nominees are Chris Pronger, for his game 3 Dean McAmmond headhunting excursion, and Daniel Alfredsson, for his game 4 end-of-2nd period bazooka blast at Scott Neidermayer. As with Zidane in the World Cup final, these 2 incidents happened during tied games. Todd Marchant's characterization of the Alfredsson play, "it shows frustration and frustration on behalf of their leader," would have been apt for either incident. Pronger's hit-to-the-head fired up Ottawa, indirectly resulting in a tightened series at 2-1. The Ottawa captain's slapshot at the Duck's captain fired up Anaheim and indirectly resulted in a probably insurmountable 3-1 series lead for Anaheim. Don Cherry, at the 2nd period intermission, said it was a stupid move on Alfredsson's part because Anaheim would come out on fire in the 3rd period. My vote for the Zidane Meltdown Award goes to Daniel Alfredsson because Ottawa's game 4 loss was a much more significant blow to his team's effort to the win the Cup.
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10 minutes of game 4 ice time for Chris Neil? After getting called for 2 quick 1st period penalties, Neil virtually disappeared from the game. Afterwards, he was not the same player who wreaked havoc on the Ducks in game 3. I will grant that the goalie interference call was bad but the actual penalty should have been called for his cross-check of Travis Moen immediately after he made contact with Giguere. In my admittedly biased opinion, Neil realized the refs weren't going to give him the free reign they gave him in game 3 (McDonald headhunt).
Now that I and a lot of others have called out two of the Senators' better players, I acknowledge they will probably rebound and play with fire for game 5. The test for the Ducks will be whether they can withstand the Ottawa's last-gasp charge. It's going to be a great game.
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