Publish date:

In the Crease

Don't be surprised if more teams follow the Rangers' overtime
strategy of using three forwards and one defenseman. Through
last Saturday, New York, which was 4-1-3 in sudden death, had
more victories in the extra session than all but two other
teams. By playing with one fewer backliner, the Rangers have
pushed the pace and dominated the puck, thus getting lots of
offensive chances....

The Hurricanes are looking for a backup to No. 1 netminder
Arturs Irbe, who has carried a huge load the last three seasons
(62 games played in 1998-99, 75 in 1999-2000 and 42 of 48 this
year). They've inquired about youngsters Brian Boucher, 23, of
the Flyers and Dan Cloutier, 24, of the Lightning, and veteran
Steve Shields of the Sharks. Carolina is dangling promising
forward Bates Battaglia and stay-at-home defenseman Marek

Look for the Stars to add veteran Panthers wing Scott Mellanby
before the March 13 trade deadline. Reeling Florida wants to
shake up its roster, and the 34-year-old Mellanby, a gritty team
player, would fit in well in Dallas....

The Bruins and the Maple Leafs are struggling mightily on the
power play (17th and 19th in the league, respectively) because
they don't have point men with big shots to open up defenses.
That allows opponents to slack off the point man and overplay
the two teams' forwards down low. Every club with an elite power
play has a cannon on the point....

To match up against the top teams in the Western Conference,
opponents need at least two talented offensive centers, so look
for the Blues and the Sharks to try to upgrade those positions
because of recent injuries to San Jose's Vincent Damphousse and
St. Louis's Michal Handzus. Among the centers available are
Alexei Yashin of the Senators; Mike Peca, the Sabres' restricted
free-agent who is in a contract impasse with the team; and the
Hurricanes' Rod Brind'Amour.