The Stanley cup-defending Stars have the grit and swagger of
champions, one reason they're so tough to beat.... The offense
revolves around centers Mike Modano and Joe Nieuwendyk, who are
as adept at setting up linemates as they are at scoring. Modano's
right wing, Brett Hull, still has his trademark booming shot and
a lightning-quick release....
Because Dallas has a number of older players such as Guy
Carbonneau, 40, and Kirk Muller, 34, who may have difficulty
keeping up with the swifter Devils, New Jersey will have a big
advantage in speed....
Chances are Stars coach Ken Hitchcock would rather see the
Devils' top offensive line of Jason Arnott, Patrik Elias and
Petr Sykora forced into a defensive role, so expect him to match
a line centered by Modano or Nieuwendyk, along with top
defenseman Derian Hatcher, against that unit....
The Stars like to move the puck up the middle, but New Jersey
does an excellent job of closing off that area. This will be a
good battle to watch....
With Modano, Nieuwendyk and Carbonneau taking face-offs, Dallas
has a huge advantage in this department. The Stars are masters
at creating offense off draws....
To keep the Devils' big hitter, Scott Stevens, on the defensive,
Dallas should bang him early and often....
Goalie Ed Belfour, who almost single-handedly won the Western
Conference finals against the Avalanche, needs to stay
disciplined, because the New Jersey forwards are likely to crash
the crease looking for rebounds while trying to distract him....
Stars penalty killers, led by Carbonneau, Modano, Mike Keane and
Brenden Morrow, are the best in the business. Expect them to
create momentum for Dallas by shutting down the Devils' power