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Game 1 Analysis

Call it a hockey hangover for the Dallas Stars

Click here for more on this story
Updated: Sunday May 27, 2001 12:39 AM

Read how CNNSI.com users analyzed this game.

By Darren Eliot, CNNSI.com

ATLANTA -- Game 1 was all about the challengers.

 
Eliot's 3 Stars
Patrik Elias, Devils
Have we seen a better feed than his behind-the-back pass to Petr Sykora that made the score 3-1 in the second? No, and the Devils never looked back, either. 

Jason Arnott, Devils
Scored the all-important first goal of the game. His sore wrist appears healed. 

Petr Sykora, Devils
Completing the top-line trifecta, Sykora was likewise a force offensively. And he is the defensive-minded one of the unit.  
 
Led by the top line of Patrik Elias, Jason Arnott and Petr Sykora, the Devils dictated the pace of play. In the second period, head coach Larry Robinson ran his best offensive line out against that of the Stars, the Mike Modano-Brett Hull line. It almost backfired, but ended beautifully for Jersey.

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.


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