Belfour saw that he was slightly out of position on some of those goals, and so he made subtle changes for that night's game against the Canadiens—and won 2-0. His next three wins were also shutouts, giving him five in his last eight starts through Sunday and a league-high six for the season. (He had three more shutouts than anyone else this year and only one fewer than last season's leader, Roman Turek of the Blues.) Belfour was on pace to break the post-1967-68 mark of 15 shutouts in a season, set by Tony Esposito of the Blackhawks in 1969-70, and had moved past Hall of Famers Ed Giacomin and Bernie Parent into 14th place all-time, with 55.
Belfour's hot streak came at an opportune time for the Stars. Dallas, which had lost just once in 10 games in November, scored two goals or fewer in six of those matches. Dallas players, in fact, admitted that they rely on Belfour to save them. "You get one for him," forward Brenden Morrow said on Nov. 17, "and he simply shuts the door."
Dive at Your Own Risk
Now that the NHL has proved that it's serious about cracking down on slashing infractions (after 342 games, calls for such violations had increased nearly 100% from the same point last season), it's trying to rid itself of another ill: players who dive to the ice in an attempt to draw penalties. Two weeks ago general managers announced that they had instructed on-ice officials to call more penalties for flopping, and players seem to have gotten the message about the warning. Since then, through Sunday, only one player had been whistled for diving.
Many of the game's shorter, peskier skaters, including the Rangers' 5'6" Theo Fleury, the Flyers' 5'10" Mark Recchi, the Predators' 5'8" Cliff Ronning and the Leafs' 5'11" Darcy Tucker, are often accused of diving, to keep bigger players from hounding them. When the Thrashers' Ray Ferraro was penalized for interfering with Ronning in a recent game, Ronning flopped so blatantly that he was nailed on the same play. "Diving is cheating," says Wild general manager Doug Risebrough. "The game suffers for it."