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Kostya Kennedy's Breakdown
Dallas    Edmonton 
Mike Modano, Brett Hull, Joe Nieuwendyk: These guys can hurt you. And they all bring their best game to the postseason.  OFFENSE

The Edge:
   

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.  DEFENSE

The Edge:
  

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

The Edge:
  

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.  PP

The Edge:
   

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.   PK

The Edge:
   

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.   COACH

The Edge:
   

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.  INTANGIBLES

The Edge:
   

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.   X-FACTOR

The Edge:
   

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
 


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