When Blues right wing Brett Hull is at the top of his game, he
gets lots of shots and scores regularly. But in St. Louis's
second-round series against the Red Wings, which Detroit led 3-2
at week's end, Hull had only one goal, no assists and just 16
shots on goal, in part because Wings coach Scotty Bowman and his
assistants, Barry Smith and Dave Lewis, came up with a scheme to
frustrate him. Whenever Hull took a shift, savvy Detroit
defensemen Larry Murphy and Nicklas Lidstrom were sent onto the
ice along with an offensively gifted forward. Why? To force Hull
to play defense, instead of concentrating on offense....
Sabre Dominik Hasek's flopping style in goal is often described
as unorthodox, but he may do one of the basics--squaring up on
the initial shot--as well as any goalie in recent history. Pucks
frequently hit him in the chest or upper thigh, making rebounds
easier for him to control and giving his defensemen a better
chance to clear the crease. Hasek deserves credit for being more
fundamentally sound than most observers think....
It looks as if Buffalo general manager Darcy Regier made the
right decision by not trading defenseman Richard Smehlik or
forward Matthew Barnaby by the March 24 deadline, deals that
were expected. Smehlik is a reliable backliner who of late has
teamed with Alexei Zhitnik to form one of the most dynamic
defensive tandems in the league. Barnaby is tied for the Sabres'
postseason scoring lead, with five goals and 10 points, and
during the playoffs has resumed being a pest extraordinaire,
using his nastiness to get under opponents' skin....
One name to remember: Capitals rookie wing Richard Zednik, who's
destined to be a star. A gunner with a terrific shot, Zednik
also has deceptive speed through the neutral zone, which helps
him create chances for himself off the rush. Zednik, a Slovakian
who was drafted 249th in 1994, is one of eight homegrown players
on Washington's active playoff roster. Like 50-goal scorer Peter
Bondra (a Ukrainian who was drafted 156th in '90), Zednik is one
of those outstanding low picks unearthed by the late Jack
Button, who scouted Europe as well as anyone.
Pierre McGuire coached the Hartford Whalers in 1993-94.