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Advantage, St. Louis
Michael Farber
May 18, 1998
SI RATES the power plays of the eight teams remaining in the playoffs.
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May 18, 1998

Advantage, St. Louis

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SI RATES the power plays of the eight teams remaining in the playoffs.

1. St. Louis Blues
Point men Al MacInnis and Steve Duchesne and forward Brett Hull (above) are the core of the most frightening unit in hockey, which scored four times during a five-minute major against the Los Angeles Kings in the first round. When MacInnis winds up for a slapper, duck!

2. Detroit Red Wings
Excellent personnel. The Wings have a fabulous quarterback in Nicklas Lidstrom and forwards who can beat an opponent with slickness ( Sergei Fedorov) or with crease-crashing strength ( Brendan Shanahan).

3. Dallas Stars
Statistically, the NHL's No. 1 power play during the regular season has been hurt since Game 1 of the opening round by the absence of injured center Joe Nieuwendyk. Still, defenseman Sergei Zubov moves the puck better than anyone else left in the playoffs, and center Mike Modano is brilliant up front.

4. Washington Capitals
Sweet-passing center Adam Oates and sniper Peter Bondra are dangerous, but often-overlooked defenseman Calle Johansson makes it all go for the Caps.

5. Edmonton Oilers
Good-but should be better, considering the Oilers' talent, which includes skilled defensemen Boris Mironov and Roman Hamrlik and big-time forwards Doug Weight and Bill Guerin.

6. Montreal Canadiens
Their power play cooled after a fast start in the regular season and is dependent on gifted but inconsistent defenseman Vladimir Malakhov. Flashy center Saku Koivu, who has recovered from a broken finger late in the regular season, is a big help up front.

7. Buffalo Sabres
A paucity of goal scorers can't be offset by defenseman Alexei Zhitnik, who distributes the puck as well as anyone except Zubov.

7. Ottawa Senators
Center Alexei Yashin is almost impossible to stop if he's allowed to walk in from the sideboards, and forward Daniel Alfredsson is almost his equal as a scorer, but the Senators don't have a quality quarterback on the blue line.