Posted on May 8, 2008 09:37 AM | Permalink
DETROIT - The Detroit Red Wings have the Dallas Stars' number.
They, in fact, have several of the Stars' numbers.
Marty Turco is 2-10-5 in his career against the Red Wings, including 0-7-2 in Detroit. Chris Osgood, meanwhile, has won more games against the Stars than any other team in his career, with a 27-10-3 record.
But that's just scratching the surface.
During the regular season, Detroit boasted the best overall record (54-21-7), ranked first in goals-against average, first in shots on goal, first in shots against and first in face-off winning percentage. The only statistical category where Dallas was better was in penalty killing, where the Stars ranked second and Detroit was eighth.
And all of that played out during their four-game series during the regular season. Detroit went 3-1-0 and outscored Dallas 12-5.
So how do the Stars believe they can beat the Red Wings, especially when they have struggled so badly at Joe Louis Arena? Simple, the Stars say they're a different team now.
"Nobody picked us in the previous two series either," Dallas centre Mike Modano said of wins against Anaheim and San Jose. "It's no surprise to us. That's just the way it's been.''
Captain Brenden Morrow said the Stars simply believe they can beat anyone.
"We really don't look at ourselves as the underdog," Morrow said. "We think we can go in and steal some games. We're going to go in and focus 60 minutes at a time, trying to do the same things we did in the first two series and come home with the lead."
Dallas won their first two road games against the Ducks and Sharks, and that allowed them to play with confidence, and also allowed them to overcome some bumps in each series.
"Deep down you have to believe you can win, and that's where we've been. We believe we can win," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "That hasn't changed now. We still believe we can win."
Datsyuk-Zetterberg create all sorts of problems
Mike Modano looked up with a bit of a smirk when asked the question. The Stars checking-line centre was asked if Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg create problems on the Red Wings' top scoring line because they can both play centre and they often switch positioning in the middle of a game.
"I think they create problems no matter what they do,'' Modano said. "You could play them together on defence and it would create problems.''
Datsyuk and Zetterberg not only are two of the best offensive players in the NHL, they also are finalists for the Selke Trophy. They will create all sorts of problems for the Stars.
"I think ever since the start, we enjoy playing with each other,'' Zetterberg said. "Ever since from our first year, I've been playing with Pavel most of my games here. It's been working great. We like to play the same style of hockey.''
Boucher, Barnes are "doubtful'' for Game 1
Dallas coach Dave Tippett lists forward Stu Barnes (concussion-like symptoms) and defenceman Philippe Boucher (hip strain) as "doubtful'' for Game 1. Barnes said he would skate Thursday and see.
The loss of Barnes creates a lot of shuffling in the Stars' lineup. Tippett likes to have chemistry with his wings, so he's been trying to keep them together in the playoffs. If Barnes can't play with Steve Ott, then Tippett typically will move a different set of wings to the checking line.
This is what he was experimenting with Wednesday:
Projected Dallas Lines
Brenden Morrow-Mike Ribeiro-Jere Lehtinen
Joel Lundqvist-Brad Richards-Loui Eriksson
Niklas Hagman-Mike Modano-Antti Miettinen
Brad Winchester-Toby Petersen-Steve Ott
Mattias Norstrom-Sergei Zubov
Nicklas Grossman-Stephane Robidas
Mark Fistric-Trevor Daley
Detroit coach Mike Babcock also has some options. Kirk Maltby (leg) is healthy and ready to return to the lineup whenever necessary. If Valtteri Filppula (leg) can't play, Daniel Cleary would probably move up to the second line and Maltby would play on the "grind line'' with Kris Draper.
Projected Detroit lines
Pavel Datsyuk-Henrik Zetterberg-Tomas Holmstrom
Johan Franzen-Valtteri Filppula-Mikael Samuelsson
Daniel Cleary-Kris Draper-Dallas Drake
Jiri Hudler-Darren Helm-Darren McCarty
Nicklas Lidstrom-Brian Rafalski
Brad Stuart-Niklas Kronvall
Brett Lebda-Chris Chelios
Best potential for collision? How about Brenden Morrow and Niklas Kronvall. Morrow is coming off a four-overtime game in which he had 19 hits, including a bone-shattering shoulder check on Milan Michalek that knocked him from the game. Kronvall, meanwhile, has become a noted physical force on the back end for Detroit.
"He's out there hunting you down. He's looking for you,'' Babcock said. "He's going to get somebody in this series, I guarantee it."