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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.
LOW-SCORING 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.
PATIENT AND 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.
WITH 40-YEAR-OLD 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.