Work in Sports
Game 6 Analysis
The Devils finally put the Stars away
Posted: Monday June 12, 2000 10:00 PM
We have all heard the rhetorical question, "what do they do for an encore?" Well, the Devils and the Stars supplied the unnecessary reply with another classic multi-overtime game -- the first such instance of back-to-back games of that nature in Finals' history. The goaltending was great, the physical play ferocious and the commitment to team play complete ... on both sides.
In Game 5, Dallas was the better team in the face-off circle. Coming into the series, that was a base strength of the Stars. In Game 6, the Devils did a much better job denying Dallas clean wins on the draws. New Jersey had been the better team along the boards throughout the series, both on the breakout and on the forecheck. Dallas did not improve along the wall to the degree the Devils did in the face-off circle. And that was their undoing.
They Stars never matched the Devils' combination of size and skill in the trenches. The Devils proved better at making plays in traffic and under pressure than did the former champs. Dallas kept looking to create open ice, while the Devils continued to make plays all over the ice. Their diligence on both sides of the puck ran deeper as well.
Dallas Stars' head coach Ken Hitchcock made adjustments throughout this series, including double-shifting centerman Mike Modano. It worked, to a degree, as Modano scored the game-winning goal in Game 5 and assisted on the team's only Game-6 tally. But, it exposed Dallas as an offensively fragile team -- certainly determined, but limited in their offensive options.
The unbelievable work of netminder Ed Belfour covered those deficiencies for as long as humanly possible. And if not for a marvelous retort to Belfour's brilliance by Devils' netminder Martin Brodeur, the Stars might have survived despite their lack of attack, as they did in Game 5.
Former New York Yankee great Yogi Berra attended that classic match in New Jersey. Long ago, he surmised that "half the game is 90% mental." Considering the Devils' perseverance the past two months and particularly after that disappointing loss less than 48 hours prior, Berra's musing proved to be 100% true for the new Stanley Cup champions.