Now it's too close to call between Sabres, Stars
Posted: Wednesday June 16, 1999 12:33 AM
The Sabres and Stars have played with the score tied or a one-goal difference for all but 26 seconds of the four games in the Stanley Cup finals thus far.
Tuesday night was another nail-biter, with the Sabres winning 2-1.
Best of three
Now that the Stanley Cup finals are tied 2-2, guess how important Game 5 is to the Stars and Sabres?
Only this: The team that takes a 3-2 lead in the series has won the Stanley Cup 12 of 15 times.
The Sabres had a great turnout by their fans on Tuesday night, and not only at Marine Midland Arena.
With all 18,595 seats filled at the arena, a crowd of 5,000 showed up at Dunn Tire Field just down the street to watch the Stanley Cup game with Dallas on a video scoreboard.
Dunn Tire Field is the home field for the Buffalo Bisons of the International League.
Rare BuffaloWhen the Sabres went into the third period with a 2-1 lead Tuesday night, it marked the first time they led after two periods in the finals.
Tuesday night's Game 4 of the finals was officiated by referees Dan Marouelli and Bill McCreary and linesmen Gord Broseker and Kevin Collins.
Brett Hull very much wanted to play Tuesday night. Dallas Stars coach Ken Hitchcock, however, had other plans for his injured forward.
"He's out -- no matter what he says, he's out," Hitchcock said. "He's fighting it, he wants to go in. He's just not ready."
Hull, who has two goals in the first three games of the tightly-played finals and seven overall in the playoffs, suffered a groin injury in Game 3 on Saturday night.
While Hull argued with his coach, Hitchcock pretty much felt all along that he would not be available for Tuesday night's game.
"He just needs to be pain-free," Hitchcock said.
Will Hull be ready for Game 5 in Dallas on Thursday night?
"He's really day-to-day," Hitchcock said.
Randy Cunneyworth has to feel lucky. Just off an appearance in the Calder Cup finals, he suddenly finds himself playing in the Stanley Cup finals with the Buffalo Sabres.
The veteran was one of three players brought up from the Rochester Americans. That made it two finals in three days for Cunneyworth, whose Americans lost the Calder series to the Providence Bruins.
"I've never been past the second round," said Cunneyworth, who had played in 42 previous NHL playoff games but never in the Stanley Cup finals.
Buffalo Sabres Lindy Ruff admits that he has talked to other coaches in the league in an attempt to get some information on how to beat the Dallas Stars. It's a common practice among NHL coaches, but not for Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock.
"We do it differently here," Hitchcock said. "I have a guy like [general manager] Bob Gainey. "I lean on him hard. I'm lucky to have people who have won [the Stanley Cup]. Bob Gainey and Doug Jarvis. I prefer to stay within the bubble."
There's at least one player's vote for the NHL's new two-referee system, and it comes from a surprising source -- Dallas forward Brian Skrudland.
"I think the game has gotten better. [The two-ref system] keeps players from taking cheap shots behind the play," Skrudland said. "I never thought I'd like it, considering the way I like to hack."
Change of style
Joe Nieuwendyk won the Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames in 1989 and now is trying to win another with the Dallas Stars.
Any similarities between the teams' style?
"The game's changed so much," Nieuwendyk says. "It's used to be more wide-open. Now it's more tight-checking."
There is one thing that hasn't changed, though.
"Both teams do whatever it takes to win."'
New York Islanders general manager Mike Milbury has confirmed that he is trying to trade Zigmund Palffy, the team's best offensive player.
And a lot of cash, Milbury says.
"When you're talking seven figures, and it's not my money, then there are other people getting involved," said Milbury, who attended a meeting of NHL general managers at the Stanley Cup finals.
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