Game 1 Analysis
Call it a hockey hangover for the Dallas Stars
By Darren Eliot, CNNSI.com
ATLANTA -- Game 1 was all about the challengers.
Modano let fly with a rolling rocket that Martin Brodeur blocked, but failed to catch cleanly. But Brodeur then side-stroked to his left, denying the Brett Hull put-back in larcenous fashion. Moments later, Elias found Sykora in front with a deft no-look dish from behind the net. Instead of the game being tied 2-2, the Devils had doubled their lead. Now that's what I call a turning point.
Sure, the Stars tried to put on their brave face as defending champs. Derian Hatcher bullied Elias in the first with an undetected crosscheck to the small of the back. Then, in the second, Hatcher threw an elbow to the cranium of John Madden that did not escape detection. But on this night, even the bully was put in his place, as rookie rearguard Colin White laid out Hatcher with an open-ice hit that even made mentor Scott Stevens growl an acknowledged accolade. The Devils could do no wrong and as the night wore on, the Stars did little right.
Call it a hockey hangover for the Dallas Stars. They were physically spent and mentally exhausted. A case of too much Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference finals and not enough time to rid the system of the toxic effect? To be sure, but give the Devils their due. Their effort and execution was perfect from the outset. They will have to be as sharp come Saturday because forget brave face posing -- expect the Stars to wear war paint worthy of defending champs.