The ascendancy of 23-year-old Thomas Vanek (right)
continues. After the Sabres' left wing was scratched from eight of his team's
18 playoff games last year as an overmatched rookie, Vanek led Buffalo with 43
goals and an NHL-best +47 rating during the regular season. Through Sunday he
had five goals in his last six playoff games, including the game-winner in each
of the Sabres' first two victories against the Rangers. Vanek has developed
into one of the league's most dangerous scorers from the face-off dots in....
The most successful franchises in the NHL over the last 12 years have been New
Jersey and Detroit, with three Stanley Cups each. They're also the two having
the most trouble selling playoff tickets; both were playing home games in front
of thousands of empty seats. That's nothing new for the Devils, but the Red
Wings, like many of their fans, are suffering from the downturn in the Detroit
economy.... Maybe voting for the Hart Trophy should take the playoffs into
account. Does anyone now doubt that Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo is the
league's MVP? At week's end Luongo (left) had a postseason-best 31.9 saves per
game and a .941 save percentage.... The Stars made a smart move when they
brought back ultraprepared coach Dave Tippett for the final year of his
contract despite Dallas's third consecutive first-round playoff exit. But
Tippett may need to be more offensive-minded. Teams that rely on the Stars'
style of stifling defense—at the expense of offensive flow—haven't prospered in
the playoffs in the postlockout NHL.