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Stars won't shine for long
Stars won't shine for long
Death, taxes, tuition hikes some things just don't change.
This year, you can add the identity of the Stanley Cup champions to the list because despite the New Jersey Devils best efforts, the Dallas Stars will not be relinquishing their grip on hockey's holy grail.
With the tremendous success the two teams have experienced thus far, you can bet neither team is about to dramatically alter their playing style, especially to anything that would resemble fire wagon hockey.
Aside from their defensive emphasis, these teams share several other striking similarities. Start with the masked men. Both Martin Brodeur and Ed Belfour have been here before. Brodeur led his team to a championship in 1995 in his sophomore season. Belfour flew the San Jose coop in search of greener pastures in Big D. He found them in the form of a Stanley Cup ring last June. Should any unsuspecting forward actually find himself in a position to achieve what will surely be a rarity in this series scoring a goal Belfour and Brodeur will be there to shut the door.
Moving out from the crease another common theme stands out: The big blue-line patrollers. New Jersey has been led by the rock solid play of captain Scott Stevens. He constantly goes up against the opposition's top line and more often than not, he emerges the victor. For more information on the prowess of Scott Stevens, I'll refer you to Pavel Bure and Mats Sundin. Long time Devil veteran Ken Daneyko provides more size and the speedy Scott Niedermayer seems to be able to elevate his game when it matters most.
Not to be outdone, the Texas trio of Derian Hatcher, Darryl Sydor and Richard Matvichuk have all been eating their Wheaties for some time now. They love to make anyone brave enough to stand in front of Belfour, pay the price. Throw in the always exciting Sergei Zubov, the depth provided by Dave Manson and Sylvain Cote and it's not hard to see why the Dallas defense is the envy of the league.
What will set these teams apart is the lack of scoring punch up front from the Devils. Sure, Patrick Elias is having a good post-season, yes Alexander Mogilny is still dangerous and Bobby Holik and Jason Arnott can provide an offensive threat, but New Jersey does not boast a single game breaker in its line up. Dallas has three.
Mike Modano, Brett Hull and last year's Conn Smythe winner, Joe Nieuwendyk, all have the potential to take control offensively.
This year's Stanley Cup final should be close and probably a lot more entertaining than most people think. It will take six tightly contested games for the scoring punch of the Dallas Stars to out-do the Devils. Despite Dallas' dismay in game one of the series, Lord Stanley is staying deep in the heart of Texas.