The Dallas roster is sprinkled with young players, but they've made little impact. Aside from second-year left wing Brenden Morrow, 22, who was fifth on the Stars in goals, with 11 through last Saturday, and Brad Lukowich, 24, who was playing regularly as the fifth defenseman, no Dallas player under 25 had more than seven points or averaged as much as 10 minutes of ice time. "It's hard for young players to get time," says center Joe Nieuwendyk, 34. "We have a strong group of veterans who like to play."
Hitchcock can't afford to rest those veterans if it means risking victories. Despite an excellent 27-14-4-1 record, the Stars were tied with the Sharks atop the Pacific Division through Saturday and will likely need to win the division to have a chance of hosting a playoff round. "They look the same as the team we played in the  finals," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said about the Stars recently. "They're still all about their older core and their goalie [35-year-old Ed Belfour]."
That makeup has kept Dallas playing at the level that Hitchcock wants. As for the other part of the plan, he says, "We still look at this as a year for development. It's just that not all the young guys have adapted as quickly as we had hoped."
One Game, One Goalie: Brodeur
Devils' netminder Martin Brodeur received only 97,000 votes in the recently completed All-Star balloting, nearly 80,000 fewer than Avalanche goalie Patrick Roy and less than half the total of the Sabres' Dominik Hasek. Yet even as fans were selecting Roy and Hasek to start for the North American and World teams, respectively, Brodeur was winning the support of a more educated electorate. SI asked the NHL's head coaches (who were granted anonymity in return for honest answers), "Which goalie would you want in the net for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals?" and seven of 25 respondents chose Brodeur. Hasek and Roy netted six votes apiece; the other votes were scattered among four recipients.
"I like the way Brodeur accepts a challenge and makes big saves at the right time," said an Eastern Conference coach. Brodeur was also praised for his ability to "handle the puck better than any other goalie."
While those who supported Roy rested their case largely on his NHL-record 121 career playoff wins, no one who picked Hasek seemed bothered that he hasn't won a Cup, as both Roy (three) and Brodeur (two) have done. "When Hasek's at his best, there's no question he's the one you'd want," said one coach.
The steady Brodeur, however, received a compliment that may explain why coaches covet him but fans overlook him next to the acrobatic Hasek and the demonstrative Roy. "He's just so solid," a Brodeur supporter said.
Expansion Teams' Success
Sticking to a Simple Plan
When Doug Risebrough, general manager of the expansion Wild, was casting about for advice on building a team last year, one of the men he consulted was Panthers G.M. Bill Torrey, who presided over Florida's record-setting 83-point expansion season in 1993-94. Advised Torrey, "Assess what's available, develop a philosophy and stick with it."