Right wing, Senators
IF OTTAWA expects
to shake its reputation as a playoff disappointment--the Senators have lost in
the first round in five of their last eight appearances--Alfredsson will need
to produce in the postseason. (He had only one goal and two assists in 2004.)
His play of late has indicated that he might do just that. Alfredsson had
career highs of 41 goals and 57 assists at week's end.
Right wing, Flames
Calgary (27th in the league with 2.63 goals a game) has the best goalie in the
NHL in Miikka Kiprusoff, but he can't carry the team back to the finals by
himself. Iginla will have to provide offensive firepower. The league's top goal
scorer in 2003-04, Iginla led Calgary with 34 goals through Sunday, 10 more
than the next Flame, center Daymond Langkow.
low-key, the three-time All-Star is Dallas's top offensive defenseman (71
points at week's end). He also leads a stingy defense; the Stars have the
lowest shots-against average (25.4) in the league. Given goaltender Marty
Turco's erratic performance in past playoffs, the Stars will count on Zubov to
control the puck in the defensive zone during tight games.
AT 35, the
16-year veteran plays an industrial-strength 24:19 per game, the most minutes
of any NHL forward. The young team will lean heavily on Brind'Amour for
leadership. Carolina's top scorer, Eric Staal (45 goals and 55 assists through
Sunday), has no playoff experience, and right wing Justin Williams (31 goals,
45 assists) has played in just 17 postseason games.
Center, Red Wings
Steve Yzerman in the twilight of his career, the burden falls on Datsyuk to
spearhead Detroit's charge for the Stanley Cup. Datsyuk, 27, and left wing
Henrik Zetterberg, 25, are the Red Wings' new guard, bringing youth and scoring
ability. It's test time for Datsyuk, Detroit's top point-getter (28 goals, 59
assists at week's end), who has only 12 points in 37 playoff games.