|Kostya Kennedy's Breakdown|
|Mike Modano, Brett Hull, Joe Nieuwendyk: These guys can hurt you. And
they all bring their best game to the postseason.
| Center Doug Weight is an excellent playmaker and Bill Guerin is a
force off the wing. But solid regular-season scorers like Ryan Smyth and Alex
Selivanov could be stifled against the big, bad Stars.
|The league's deepest group of blue liners, led by captain Derian Hatcher
and swift Darryl Sydor (who could be back as early as Game 3), was given added
depth when Dallas acquired Sylvain Cote and Dave Manson prior to the trade
deadline. Forty-year-old Guy Carbonneau remains among the premier defensive
forwards in the game.
| There's talent on the back line with young players Roman Hamrlik, Tom
Poti and Janne Niinimaa. But this team plays an up-tempo game and will leave its
share of holes on the ice.
| Ed Belfour silenced his doubters last year when he played so well and
helped lead the Stars to the Cup. But his run-in with police last month could
haunt his temperamental psyche.
|| IN GOAL
| Tommy Salo is finally rounding into the form he showed when he starred
as the Swedish team's keeper. Salo's a good, underrated goalie who could be an
All-Star before long.
| Defenseman Sergei Zubov remains one of the league's premier men at the
point -- even though his power-play production was down this year. With him the
Stars can burn. Without him, they have an ordinary man-up attack.
| All that speed on the blue line makes this a potentially dangerous
unit, and the one place where Selivanov and Smyth might pick up points
|Led by Carbonneau and helped by the play of rookie winger Blake Sloan,
this is the best penalty kill in hockey. No team is better at blocking shots.
| They don't make many mistakes, but they do give up their share of
chances. They'll put a premium on keeping bodies out of Salo's way.
| Ken Hitchcock is one of the most perceptive men in the game, on any
level. His players, notably Mr. Hull, have occasionally bristled at some of his
defensive-minded tactics. They don't argue for long, though, because they know
how smart Hitch is.
| Rookie Kevin Lowe moved seamlessly from serving as an assistant to
taking over as the top guy. He commands respect and players swear by him.
| For all their controlled play, the Stars are an emotional bunch and can
really ratchet things up to a high level when they need to.
| Just being in the playoffs has made this season a (financial) success
for the Oilers. The players know that.
| Depth, depth depth. The Stars are old and are likely to encounter
injuries, as they have for a couple of years now.
| The play of Salo. If he's at his best, and steals a game early, this
could be a long, tough series.
|Kennedy's Prediction: Dallas in 6|