The second season
Stars' Hitchcock worried as NHL playoffs open
Posted: Tuesday May 04, 1999 01:18 PM
NEW YORK (AP) -- The Stanley Cup playoffs begin Wednesday, and the Dallas Stars already are looking several games ahead.
The top-ranked Stars, who open against Edmonton, will be without All-Star defenseman Derian Hatcher for the first five games of the playoffs.
Hatcher is serving a suspension for attacking Phoenix forward Jeremy Roenick on April 14. Hatcher left his feet to hit Roenick, fracturing his jaw and keeping the Coyotes' leading scorer from the playoffs.
The Dallas defenseman missed the last two games of the regular season.
The Dallas-Edmonton game is one of four Wednesday night. The others are: Anaheim at Detroit, San Jose at Colorado and Buffalo at Ottawa.
Clearly, the Stars do not need Hatcher to beat the Oilers. They were 3-0-1 against Edmonton during the season and won their second straight Presidents' Trophy with the NHL's best record.
Still, coach Ken Hitchcock is worried.
"We're going to have to play better offensive hockey," he said. "Hopefully, we get a good offensive push from a couple of our key lines."
Hitchcock spoke following Sunday's season-ending 2-1 loss to Colorado. The Stars are No. 8 in scoring in the NHL, but first in defense.
"You have to feel confident when you win the Jennings and the Presidents' Trophy," forward Mike Keane said. "We had a good year, but now it's a whole different season. We're ready to play."
On Thursday night, it's Pittsburgh at New Jersey, Boston at Carolina, Philadelphia at Toronto and St. Louis at Phoenix.
Here is a look at Wednesday's other openers:
Anaheim at Detroit
The Red Wings hope to win their third straight Stanley Cup, which would make them a rare bird. No team has won as many as three in row since the New York Islanders in 1980-83.
"Our job is to go out and play as physical as possible on those guys as we can," forward Kris Draper said of the Mighty Ducks.
Detroit won the season series 3-1.
San Jose at Colorado
The Avalanche took the season series, 3-1, and have been on a tear in the second half of the season after starting slowly.
The Sharks, 21st in the league in scoring, simply can't match the firepower of the Avalanche. More bad news for the Sharks: Colorado goalie Patrick Roy has been at the top of his game lately.
Buffalo at Ottawa
"With Ottawa, you're dealing with a team that has great team speed," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "They've had one heck of a year. Both their goaltenders have had a heck of a year."
The Senators finished second in the Eastern Conference.
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