Week at a Glance: We could be heroes
Posted: Saturday May 08, 1999 04:48 PM
By Jamie MacDonald, CNN/SI
It was the best of traditions and the worst of traditions as the NHL conference quarterfinals came to a close ... The best: The customary handshake at the end of any series.
The worst: The New Jersey Devils staying in hotels for home playoff games.
But now that eight conference quarterfinalists have been eliminated from playoff contention, we turn our Glance to the second round -- where eight teams remain. This week we'll be taking a look at the players who, save for goaltenders, will be among the most responsible if their teams are to advance to the Conference Finals. Some names may surprise you, but remember that the stars of the league aren't always the stars of a playoff series.
Dallas Stars: Derian Hatcher . He'll miss Game 1 serving a suspension, but his solid game and bruising presence will be needed in a series against the quick Blues forwards. Runners up; Joe Nieuwendyk, whose production is a luxury when Mike Modano is playing well and Jamie Langenbrunner , who can score a few key goals while keeping the Blues forwards in check.
St. Louis Blues: Pierre Turgeon . St. Louis' No. 77 has been an assist machine but he'll need to find the net; series-clincher in Game 7 vs. Phoenix is a good start. Runners up: Scott Young, whose production was sorely missed in the early part of the Coyotes series and Al MacInnis, who will be logging tons of icetime against a deep and talented Dallas team.
Colorado Avalanche: Peter Forsberg . Mr. Complete Game is much like the forwards coveted by the Red Wings these days, only much more skilled with the puck. He must shoot more in this series, because he may be one of the few forwards able to take a beating without giving up a scoring chance. Runners up: Claude Lemieux, who is always a central theme in this meeting and Adam Deadmarsh, who, with a few well-timed goals could be a quiet hero in the series.
Detroit Red Wings: Sergei Fedorov . His game can be taken to another level. With so much team depth it's just a matter of time before he gets free and dazzles all of us. Plus he's great two-way player. Runners up: Chris Chelios, who knocked Paul Kariya out in Round 1 and Tomas Holmstrom, who continues to get better in becoming one of the best young playoff performers.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Sergei Berezin . If Mats Sundin isn't going to do it, this feisty Russian will. Scorching speed, and when he hits a hole he's smart with the puck and has a good shot. Runners up: Sundin, if this guy could score a few goals the Leafs would be scary and Bryan Berard , who led the team in the first round with five points (all assists) and will be asked to help stop a versatile quick-strike offense.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Jaromir Jagr . In some cases, the best player is asked to play better than everyone on the ice, which Jagr's done just about all year. Runners up: Alexei Kovalev, who can be a defensive liability, but can also take over in the offensive zone and Martin Straka, who won't be surprising anyone in this round.
Boston Bruins: Dimitri Khristich . The Bruins will not get past the Sabres if Khristich and Jason Allison go O-fer in goals. Runners up: Sergei Samsonov , who has to shoot more often but won't be subject to the beating Carolina provided and Anson Carter , now a "crowd favorite" with a flair for the dramatic.
Buffalo Sabres: Mirolav Satan . In a series that will be defined by great goaltending, the series best sniper has to beat Byron Dafoe. Runners up: Michael Peca, who can shut down almost any player in the NHL, depending on who's hot and Joe Juneau, who has a chance to do what he did with the Caps last season, beat his former team.
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