Courtesy of Daniel Fung
THE SUN REPORTS
The Minnesota Wild might have already been eliminated from the playoffs, but the Canucks-Stars series looks like its carrying on the legacy of Minnesota's bench boss, Jacques Lemaire. Actually, on further inspection, it might be more The Opposite Episode from Seinfeld, writes Iain MacIntyre.
A series about nothing
In the episode, Jerry tells his friend George that, "If every instinct you have is wrong...then the opposite would have to be right," something which MacIntyre feels this whole series has been about.
"It is with this skepticism we should now view the Stars and Canucks, who have proved almost nightly that our instincts regarding momentum and form have been diametrically flawed," writes MacIntyre. "Plus, like Seinfeld, this is a series about nothing. No hitting, no scoring, no animosity, no fun, no logic - other than the reality that matching on defensive zealot against another, and each team backstopped by an elite goalie in peak form, will cause only 18 goals in five games, half of them extravagantly exhausted in the opener."
But while, judging by some of the mannerisms, one might be easy to conclude that the Canucks were down 3-2 in the series instead of up, the Canucks themselves realize they still have the upper hand and are in good position to close out the series against the Stars on Saturday.
"I think we're one game ahead. We cannot look at it like we're in trouble," said Canucks winger Jan Bulis. "We're going to Dallas the same way as we did a week ago. We went to Dallas after losing, then won the games."
Road sweet road
The Canucks might not have wanted to make this trip to Dallas, but it would appear they have the Stars right where they want them, writes Ed Willes. With home teams winning just once thus far in the series, combined with the fact that the Stars have dropped six straight home playoff games, the Canucks strangely look in good position to finish off the series at the American Airlines Center tonight.
"We've had some success down there and now we get another kick at it," Canuck defenceman Willie Mitchell said Friday before the team boarded its charter flight to Texas. "The games are so tight and home ice hasn't been that big of an advantage so far. Hopefully we can continue with that trend."
Figuring out the power play
Vancouver's power play has been a connecting at a dismal four per cent so far in the series and they have none in the last four games. Despite this, the Canucks are confident they'll eventually solve the Dallas penalty kill given the fact they've had ample opportunity to watch it in action and they are getting a better understanding of how it operates, writes Elliott Pap.
"They're allowing us to set up on the sideboards and then backing off a little bit from there," explained [Canucks assistant coach Mike] Kelly. "They are hoping we'll settle in and not get a lot of movement. They like to overplay three guys down low and really protect the front of their net. What we have to do is break pressure, then get the puck to a spot where we can get it to the net with traffic. The goal we did score on the power play - [Mattias Ohlund, second period, Game 1] - we got the puck to the top, we got it across and we got the shot. It was very basic."
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS REPORTS
Turco in the clear
Heading into the series, there was much talk about the inability of Marty Turco in the playoffs, enough perhaps to suggest that Stars GM Doug Armstrong would have needed to approach Turco and ask him to waive a no-trade clause if he showed up this series with another sub-par performance. None of that is applicable anymore, writes Jean-Jacques Taylor.
"The Stars' highest-paid player - more than $5 million per season - is playing his best in big games," writes Taylor. "He's matching Roberto Luongo, arguably the NHL's best goalie, save for save, which is what he must continue doing for the Stars to win this series."
Turco's brilliance might even be enough for the Stars to exorcise their playoff demons despite falling 3-1 in the series and still in a 3-2 hole entering Saturday's Game 6. Even if the Stars don't, they can take solace in the fact that Marty Turco is no longer the biggest problem they face entering the off-season.
"No longer does it seem preposterous that Turco, who has allowed only five goals in the last 13 periods, could outplay Luongo in the next two games," writes Taylor. "Win or lose this series, [asking Turco to waive a no-trade clause is] something Armstrong no longer has to worry about. Turco has proven he can be an elite goalie. He just needs somebody to score goals."
One monkey off, another one might fall
The Dallas Stars shook a big monkey off their backs by snapping their streak of six consecutive overtime losses. Now they need to shake an even bigger one of six consecutive playoff home losses, writes Mike Heika. The Stars players, however, seem confident that after snapping one ugly streak, they are ready to snap the other one.
"We didn't make a big deal of the overtime thing, and we beat that jinx,' so to speak," Stars defenseman Philippe Boucher said. "So, this is just the next one we have to have."
Just bring it, says Sydor
Daryl Sydor has seen his fair share of hits thus far in this series, including two particularly note worthy ones, writes Kate Hairopoulos. He got rocked by Trevor Linden in Game 3 and then got nailed into the glass by Canucks rookie Jannik Hansen in Game 5. Sydor however, welcomes the physical play, suggesting it actually helps his game.
"Everybody's got their own pain threshold you can play with," Sydor said Friday evening from his perch on a stationary bike in the Stars' training room at American Airlines Center, shortly after the team's return from Vancouver. "To me, getting his and getting hit hard and stuff like that, I kind of like that. It gets me going."
THE FORT-WORTH STAR TELEGRAM REPORTS
Marty gets technical
Star-Telegram staff writer Jennifer Lloyd Engle tried to pitch the idea that to Stars goaltender Marty Turco that his play in this post-season has proved the fact that he isn't a playoff choke, but Marty Turco wasn't quite seeing it that way.
"Not true, because I never set out to prove anything," Turco argued. "You can't prove something without a hypothesis."
Engle however, wasn't buying Turco's line either.
"A hypothesis, by definition, is something taken to be true for the sake of argument or investigation," writes Engle. "What had started to become taken as fact about Marty was he always blinked first in big games, that he choked, that he was not a playoff goalie in the Ed Belfour sense of the words."
"He has answered his critics and proven the hypothesis wrong," Engle continues. "He has given his team a reason to believe coming back against Vancouver is possible and going further not impossible."
Home away from home
The Stars managed to cross a few things off their checklist in their Game 5 victory, including scoring a power play goal and claiming an overtime victory, writes Tracey Myers. Now they hope to cross one more thing off: claim a home victory.
With the way the road teams have played this season, the Stars might have been wise to ask the remaining games in the series be played at General Motors Place. Knowing the lack of success home teams have had thus far in this series, Stars captain Brendan Morrow knows it's important to play a good road game in Game 6, even if they are in front of their hometown fans.
"We don't want to try and get too fancy at home," Brendan Morrow said. "We'll stick with the game plan, keep it simple, and throw as many pucks at [Roberto Luongo] as we can."