Work in Sports
Game 2 Analysis
Stars make survival an art form
Posted: Friday June 02, 2000 05:27 PM
By Darren Eliot, CNNSI.com
ATLANTA -- The Devils played well enough to win. They blocked shots, kept the scoring chances to a minimum, created three times the number of quality scoring chances as the Stars, played with discipline in all three zones and lost. They failed to score on the power play and Martin Brodeur whiffed on the first goal.
Once again, the Stars came through in a crucial situation. Outplayed, but not outdone. Ed Belfour returned to form with 27 saves, many spectacular stops made in tight and in traffic. Brett Hull supplied all the offense, coming through as he has this entire spring.
Collectively, the Stars competed at a much higher level than in Game 1. Led by captain Derian Hatcher, they were more physical, particularly in their own zone. The backchecking forward on the weak side was much more diligent in negating the outside speed option of the Devils. That allowed the defensemen to stand up more aggressively and deny zone access at the blue line.
Coach Ken Hitchcock utilized his personnel masterfully, coming up with combinations that made sense against the Devils contingency. Which, for much of this game, meant keeping the defensive pairing of Darryl Sydor and Sergei Zubov away from the Jason Arnott line.
Hitchcock went so far as to double shift Hatcher, at times pairing him in rotation with the other defensemen. Hitchcock is used to other teams adjusting to his roster. But, on this night, Hitchcock proved that part of surviving means making adjustments calmly and confidently. Not coincidentally, those traits returned to the Stars' game