Courtesy of Daniel Fung
THE VANCOUVER SUN REPORTS
Too close to call
The Canucks-Stars series might just come down to a coin flip. According to Brad Ziemer, both teams like to employ similar styles where goal scoring isn't as important as goal prevention. This was fairly evident during the season series where all four games finished in a 2-1 score. But does that mean we're in for a snoozefest? Don't count on it.
"It's playoff hockey, it's going to be exciting," said Cooke, who scored Vancouver's last playoff goal in 2004. "You are going to have critics that say a 2-1 hockey game, even though there are 60 shots, is boring. But if you are only basing it on goals, you have a bit of a skewed opinion."
Straying from the master
There's some irony in the boyhood heroes of the two respective goaltenders who will begin their playoff battle tonight at General Motors Place. Roberto Luongo's idol was Grant Fuhr, who was known for his acrobatic style while Marty Turco's idol was none other than former Canuck Kirk McLean, known more for being fundamentally sound. Luongo these days however, is more focused on technical discipline while Turco, it seems, has followed more in the footsteps of Fuhr's instinct-driven style. Does Turco think this puts him at a disadvantage? According to him, it's all a work-in-progress.
"When it comes down to it, if everybody plays the same, the shooter is going to find that edge and the weakness," Turoc reasoned. "Maybe because I don't have a style, per se, like everyone else ... I try things. But for me, that's my own decision - making adjustments in your game. They're not always going to work, but that's the beauty of making those adjustments, to try them."
Elliot Pap's notebook
Ryan Kesler's return could happen sometime during the first round series against the Dallas Stars. The Canuck forward, who has missed 34 regular season games, participated in his first full practice with the team on Tuesday.
Eric Lindros (groin), Patrick Stefan (hip, season), and Matthew Barnaby (post-concussion syndrome) will not be in the lineup for game 1. Lindros is not in Vancouver, while Barnaby is on the trip.
THE PROVINCE REPORTS
Naslund pumped and wants to win... now
When Markus Naslund joined the Penguins for his first year in the NHL, he had an opportunity to meet Lord Stanley's Cup and even take a picture with it. The Penguins had, after all, just won their second of back-to-back titles and were strong candidates to win a third. Unfortunately for Naslund, through his 986-game career, he hasn't had another opportunity to take a picture with that same Cup writes Ben Kuzma. While Naslund still believes he's got plenty of gas left in the tank, he knows the opportunity to win isn't something to take lightly.
"I don't think I'm done as a player," [Naslund] stressed. "I still believe this is going to be a good season and I'm going to do everything I can to make it the most memorable of my career."
No experience necessary
Despite the lack of playoff experience amongst some of the Canucks, including the players with zero NHL playoff games of NHL such as Kevin Bieksa, Alex Burrows, Jeff Cowan, Lukas Krajicek, and Roberto Luongo, the greenhorns on the team aren't too concerned writes Jason Botchford. Kevin Bieksa, who enjoyed two playoff runs with the Manitoba Moose, feels the leadership in the Canucks dressing room will make up for the lack of playoff experience.
"We have enough guys who have been around, we have the leadership," Bieksa said. "Look around the room, there's Trevor [Linden], Markus [Naslund], [Brendan] Morrison. Those guys are going to help us out along the way."
Province pundits picks
For those keeping score, Jason Botchford is the lone Province writer backing the Dallas Stars. Botchford believes the Stars will take the series in seven games.
Ben Kuzma, Tony Gallagher, and Erik Rolfsen all picked the Canucks to take the series in six games, while Ed Willis and Gord McIntyre thinks the Canucks will prevail in a series that will go the distance.
Linden not taking anything for granted
Only two players remain from the last time these two teams met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, writes Gordon McIntyre: Trevor Linden for the Canucks, and Mike Modano for the Stars. And while the two former back-to-back draft picks in 1988 have both had long, successful careers with their respective teams, Modano has one thing Linden doesn't: A cup ring. Since making it to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final and losing in a heart-breaking seven-game series to the New York Rangers, Linden has never taken for granted the opportunity just to get a chance to compete for the Cup.
Vancouver may have home-ice advantage in round one, but that might not necessarily mean they have the advantage in game one.
"During the regular season, most visiting teams come staggering into the a city, often having played the night before, in varying states of disrepair and with all kinds of concerns on their minds," writes Tony Gallagher. "The playoffs are a whole different game. The Dallas Stars flew in late Monday and spent all of Tuesday enjoying the sunshine and getting in a full practice."
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS REPORTS
Time for Stars to win is now
Despite finishing with yet another successful regular season at 107 point this season, the Stars are all-but-short of calling this a do-or-die season, writes Mike Heika. According to owner Tom Hicks, the success of the team is not only a key issue from a marketing standpoint or a ticket-selling standpoint, but is a much-needed reward for their loyal fans. When asked whether or not past playoff failures and a potential poor showing this playoffs would mean changes in Big D, Hicks still feels the team is on the right track.
"Certainly, we're all impatient, disappointed, however you want to say it," Hicks said. "There have been some very good teams here that just haven't gotten it done in the playoffs, and we want that to change. But, that said, I think we have a plan in place here, and we're not going to veer drastically from it."
Canucks ideal for Stars
According to Tim Cowlishaw, the Vancouver Canucks are just what the Dallas Stars need to end their playoff misery. Cowlishaw breaks it down to two reasons, both surrounding the most talked about head-to-head match up in this series: Marty Turco vs. Robert Luongo.
"[T]here simply is nothing logical about [Turco] continuing to suffer playoff defeats," writes Cowlishaw. "He has been too good for too long in the regular season for this to become an annual meltdown."
And as good as Luongo has been, this is his first trip to the playoffs. Spending one season with the New York Islanders and five with Florida, Luongo didn't have to worry about the Stanley Cup. The pressure on him is immense. As a Canadian playing in Vancouver, he is viewed as the savior of a franchise that has won one playoff series in the last 10 years."
THE FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM REPORTS
Morrow 'C's success
In just his first season as captain of the Dallas Stars, Brendan Morrow hasn't had the option of shying away from talking about leading a perennial regular season powerhouse that simply has been unable to translate regular season promise into post-season success. But as Jennifer Floyd Engel writes, not only has Morrow embraced the idea of being Stars captain, he also foresees this year as the year the Stars finally get the monkey off their back.
"I do feel different being the captain," said Morrow. "It's exciting for me. If we don't have success and you ask me these questions, I might have a different response. But right now it's a challenge and I'm ready. We're kind of the underdogs this year, and we aren't in the same position we were last year. That's not a bad thing. And a lot of people in here believe even if a lot of them out there do not."