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09-20-2003, 05:27 AM
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Fedorov, Ducks continue to adjust

The Orange County Register

ANAHEIM Even with three Stanley Cup rings, two Selke Trophies and a Hart Trophy in his personal collection, Sergei Fedorov remains mortal.

While the newly obtained Mighty Ducks center's skill level clearly ranks him among those precious few truly elite players in the NHL, it still figures to take Fedorov some time to bring his game in line with that of his new employers.

A free-agent contract potentially worth more than $40 million over five years has created huge expectations for Fedorov, a former star with the Detroit Red Wings.

Still, the reality is that Fedorov, like any new player on any team, must make some adjustments.

"We all know there's a process here," Ducks coach Mike Babcock said.

Fedorov made his second exhibition appearance in Friday night's 4-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks at Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim.

Fellow free-agent acquisition Vinny Prospal was the offensive star, with an assist and a third-period, shorthanded goal that stood up as the winner.

Petr Sykora and Rob Niedermayer also scored goals for the Ducks, and defenseman Keith Carney added an empty-netter. Jonathan Cheechoo and Wayne Primeau replied for San Jose. Ilya Bryzgalov went the distance in goal for the Ducks, recording 20 saves.

Fedorov played "much better obviously, more like my own self" in his second outing. That came on the heels of what he called "not really a pleasant experience" in his Ducks debut, Thursday's 4-2 loss to the Kings at Staples Center.

Kings minor-leaguer John Tripp stripped Fedorov of the puck behind the Ducks net and scored the game's first goal, and Fedorov struggled to find a rhythm the rest of the night.

"My mind was working hard but, I guess my body didn't really respond to my mind," Fedorov said. "It's easy to understand everything, what this team is all about, but it's harder to put it out there on the ice.

"You basically cannot think on the ice. You have to react out there. I just have to keep working at it."

A veteran of Fedorov's stature would usually appear only in a minimal number of exhibition games, but the more ice time he gets, the more ready Fedorov figures to be for the Oct. 8 regular-season opener at Dallas.

"It will come," Fedorov said. "I know it will come. I have a lot of work ahead of me.

"I'm looking forward to it. I really want to succeed on this team."

While Fedorov spent his first 13 NHL seasons with Detroit, defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh joined his fifth team with the January trade that brought him to the Ducks from the Florida Panthers. Like Fedorov, Ozolinsh is a multi-talented performer who seems to react naturally, at least after a while.

"It definitely takes some time to get used to the way a team plays," Ozolinsh said. "Everything happens so quickly. If you spend that extra time thinking, you lose your position. "

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