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Rolling Rock - A Unique State of Beer

LCS Hockey

  Selanne Has Ducks Soaring
by Peter Farkasovsky, Correspondent

In some professions, being the sixth fastest won't get you much recognition. Have you ever heard of Slappy's House of Cold Pizza? I rest my case. In the NHL, however, being the sixth fastest to 300 goals is something to quack. . .er, crow about.

That's just what Teemu Selanne, the flashy winger for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, achieved late last month against the San Jose Sharks in just his 464th game. Only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Brett Hull, Mike Bossy and Jari Kurri have gotten there faster.

You know, that's not bad company -- Hall of Fame company, to be exact.

"It's an honor to be one of those guys," says Selanne. "It's a nice honor to score 300 goals, but I didn't really even think about that too much. I just try to do my job and the goals are there when I'm playing well."

Saying that Selanne and the Ducks are playing "well" right now would be an understatement -- kinda like saying Michael Jackson likes kids -- as they are breaking more records than bikers at a Disco-Must-Go Rally.

The Ducks went 10-3-0 in February, setting club records for wins and points in a month. A victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday gave the Ducks a seven-game win streak, also a club record. In that same game, Selanne broke the club points streak record by contributing an assist in the first period.

The Finnish Flash tallied 12 goals and 13 assists in 13 games during the Ducks' record-setting month of February. With numbers like that, the league should've given him something -- and they did, naming him NHL Player of the Month. I was thinking of something like a gift certificate to Giant Eagle or a free oil change, but the employee of the month thing isn't bad either.

Let's face it, the guy has rocket speed, a cannon shot, pin-point accuracy and more moves than a bowl of Jell-O in an earthquake. Those qualities have been evident throughout Selanne's NHL career and even right from the beginning as he lit the lamp 76 times his rookie season, breaking Mike Bossy's record of 52 goals by a rookie.

Selanne was traded to Anaheim in February of 1996 to help star left winger Paul Kariya bolster a sagging offense. Both have been central to Anaheim's success; however, in years past, if either or both didn't have a good game the Ducks had little chance of winning. This season, the Ducks have had more balanced scoring from their second and third lines.

"They really have supported us," says Selanne. "There are a lot of nights that our line hasn't played as well as we wanted, and we got some help from the other lines. That's a big thing."

Huge when a team is preparing for a playoff run. Usually by April, Selanne is known as the "Finished Flash," as he has been in the playoffs only twice. But the Ducks are in fifth place in the Western Conference and are looking towards their first playoff appearance since the 1996-97 season, and their second berth ever.

Another reason for the Ducks' emergence has been a healthy Paul Kariya, who missed most of last season because of a contract dispute and injuries. Improved team chemistry and work ethic are others, says Selanne.

"I think one of the biggest things is we have so much consistency and the difference between the good game and bad game; the gap is really small. So, that's what really makes our team so much stronger than before."

LCS Hockey

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