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In The Crease

Wayne Gretzky's fabulous breakaway goal against the Canadiens
last week was a perfect example of why the Great One should have
been among the five players Canada used in the Olympic shoot-out
it lost to the Czech Republic. Just the thought of facing
Gretzky one-on-one can intimidate a goalie.... Speaking of
intimidation, Sabres netminder Dominik Hasek has the same effect
on shooters that Gretzky has on goalies. Players try to be too
perfect with their shots against Hasek; thus they often end up
missing the net. This makes his job easier and puts less
pressure on his defensemen because they don't have to clear as
many second-chance opportunities from the crease area.... Two
referees who have climbed in the estimation of the NHL brass are
Richard Trottier and Don Van Massenhoven. Look for them to get
some key assignments in the playoffs.... The Northeast
Division-leading Penguins have tailed off (from March 22 through
Sunday they were 1-5-4) because opponents have finally learned
how to play them. To be successful against Pittsburgh you need
to limit the Penguins' power-play opportunities, keep offensive
defenseman Kevin Hatcher from jumping into the rush, forecheck
Pittsburgh's vulnerable back line with a vengeance and shut down
the top line of Stu Barnes, Ron Francis and Jaromir Jagr. To get
back on track coach Kevin Constantine even pulled
Jagr--temporarily, at least--off that top unit last weekend....
One reason for the Sharks' late-season resurgence is their
improved special teams. In San Jose's last 10 games through
Sunday, its power play scored on 22.6% of its chances, and the
penalty killers had a success rate of 92.0%. Improvement in the
latter category has been attributable to the recent pairing of
forwards Mike Ricci and John MacLean.

Pierre McGuire coached the Hartford Whalers in 1993-94.