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The Devils are the Borg

May 30, 2003

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- I publicly admit to being a Star Trek fan and I'll drag NHL.com's Phil Coffey into that circle with me.

I bring these mundane facts to your attention because one day at the office we were talking about the Devils and he summed the team up neatly in one sentence that only a fellow Star Trek fan could appreciate: "The Devils are the Borg."

Very generally, the Borg show up in an indistinct cube-shaped ship and announce their presence with authority: "We are the Borg. Resistance is futile. We will add your biological and technical distinctiveness to our own."

The Devils have been completely and utterly dominating through thr first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Damage the Borg ship or take one out and these half-human, half-machine beings keep going. And here's one more important fact: they are linked as one mind, known as "The Collective."

Yes, the Devils are the Borg and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, who now trail this best-of-seven series, 2-0, are two losses away from being assimilated.

The Ducks entered the Devils cube-like home, known as Continental Airlines Arena, brimming with confidence after upsets of the defending-champion Red Wings, the supposed heir-apparent in Dallas and, finally, the upstart Minnesota Wild.

The Ducks played the role of the Borg to the Wild in a four-game sweep.

Now the roles are reversed.

"I think we discouraged them a lot by playing solid D," Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said.

The Devils have been completely and utterly dominating. They are technically superior in almost every category and that is supported by the fact that the Ducks have yet to register so much as a goal in 120 minutes of hockey. Consider, also, that Anaheim has registered 16 shots in each game and they haven't managed more than eight shots in any one period. "I think we're playing the way we played all year," Devils coach Pat Burns said. "We're being patient. We're not being impatient. We're not trying to do things that are not us, and we're generating offense from it and that's why we're getting those chances."

Ah, yes. Patience, not impatience. This is the philosophy of Devils' general manager Lou Lamoriello. When you look at the Devils' organization, Lamoriello represents the voice behind "The Collective," guiding the entire organization in the most minute details and setting its overall course. "As a player, you always knew the Devils had done things differently," former Duck Jeff Friesen said. "And, it seemed like they were always a good team every year and you didn't know how. Now, I know. Lou pays attention to every little detail."

That is the Devils way; and it has been that way through several coaches and the addition of key players such as Friesen, Joe Nieuwendyk, Jamie Langenbrunner, Oleg Teverdovsky, and Grant Marshall.

Nieuwendyk, an important center for Langenbrunner and Friesen, was knocked out of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Ottawa. Think that bothered the Devils? Langenbrunner scored two quick goals in the second period to give the Devils a 2-1 lead and Friesen nailed the winner in the third after the Sens tied it.

The Borg: We are the Borg. Resistance is futile. We will add your biological and technical distinctiveness to our own.

"There's an idea and there's a concept in everything we do in the Playoffs," veteran forward Sergei Brylin said.

Brylin would know. He was groomed in the Devils' farm system and has served as an unheralded player who can play all three forward positions, check other top players and work on special teams. Brylin is perhaps the perfect example of a player who goes about his job with little fanfare and doesn't seem to care a bit about the spotlight.

"It's a team that plays within a system and no player is bigger than the team," Langenbrunner said. "You can sense when a team is ready to sacrifice and it's a good feeling."

Every player on the Devils right now is prepared to forgo individual glory for the sake of the Stanley Cup. It's not that the Ducks are playing like individuals, but the Devils sense of sacrifice is so overwhelming that the Ducks are having a hard time trying to fend it off.

"You've got to give them credit," Duck coach Mike Babcock said. "They've done a real good job. They are doing to us what we did to three teams before we got here."

In one Star Trek episode, the Enterprise was able to defeat the Borg by breaking into their computer system and issuing a command to sleep. The Borg dropped everything they were doing to rest, and while they slept, the Enterprise blew them to bits.

Every player on the Devils right now is prepared to forgo individual glory for the sake of the Stanley Cup.

"I think it's a lot like the same way we normally play," Babcock said. "They're on you, they've got good sticks and they compete real hard. They're playing real hard and playing real well. They look like a hungry, hungry team."

Hungry to assimilate the Ducks.

How will the next episode turnout? Tune in to Game 3 from the Pond at 8 p.m. ET (ABC, CBC, RDS) Saturday night to find out.

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In one Star Trek episode, the Enterprise was able to defeat the Borg by breaking into their computer system and issuing a command to sleep. The Borg dropped everything they were doing to rest, and while they slept, the Enterprise blew them to bits.

Ok, they could have left this part out.

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