Courtesy of Daniel Fung
THE SUN REPORTS
After 4 games in this series, it was seemingly unfathomable that the Stars would win one more game, let alone two to tie the series to set it to a final Game 7 showdown tonight at General Motors Place, writes Iain MacIntyre.
"Down 3-1, the Stars had never forced a Game 7," writes MacIntyre. "They couldn't win in overtime. Couldn't win at home. Couldn't win with Marty Turco. Couldn't win with Dave Tippett. Wouldn't win without Modano. And their ice sucked."
Two games later, the series now seems to be the Stars to lose with the Canucks facing an uphill battle on many fronts.
"Vancouver has lost its last two Game 7s, both at home," continues MacIntyre. "Eight Canucks remain from the 2003 team that smoked the exhaust pipe after leading Minnesota 3-1 in games. The Canucks have lost six straight playoff games when they had a chance to advance from a series, and are 2-8 at home since the first game of the Minnesota playoff. No National Hockey League team has ever been shut out four times in a seven-game series. No team has ever scored fewer than nine goals in a seven-game series."
The Canucks however, although they feel the series was much closer than it seemed even when they were up 3-1, know they just have to find a way to do it tonight.
"Anytime you're up 3-1, you're expected to close it out right away," Morrison said. "I don't know if the 3-1 lead was indicative of the closeness of the series. Regardless, we're not going to apologize for being up 3-1 and we don't expect anyone to feel sorry for us now that it's 3-3.
"Modano was challenged on their side and ...he played, I thought, his best game of the series [in Game 6]. Now the challenge is for us to rise to that level."
Game 6 effort was humiliating says Coach
Beyond just failing to close out the series in Dallas on Saturday for the second game in a row, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault was more peeved about a lack of effort and determination from the Canucks, writes Brad Zeimer. Calling out his top players immediately after the game on Saturday, Coach V didn't back down again on Sunday.
"The only thing I want from them is to work and when we don't work like we did last night I'm not going to test your intelligence, I'm not going to test our fan's intelligence., I'm going to come out and say what it is," said Vigneault. "We got outchanced something like 15-2 last night.
"Our guys just didn't work and compete. That's not acceptable and they are aware of it...the only thing that matters now is what we do tomorrow night on the ice."
Just a love tap
Stars Captain Brendan Morrow might be fuming, but Alex Burrows doesn't see what the big fuss is over the alleged slash late in Game 6, writes Brad Ziemer. And while the Stars had hoped the NHL will review the incident, Burrows thinks everybody is making too much out of nothing.
"I would be really surprised if there would be actions like this against me," Burrows said of a possible suspension. "It wasn't that bad at all, I was just letting him know where I was and playing hard and playing playoff hockey. I would do that in a regular game. When a forward is in the slot, I just like to let him know where I am and make sure he wasn't going to get a scoring chance. I think I was just playing the game hard."
Stars defenceman Sergei Zubov could miss the tonight's key Game 7, reports Brad Ziemer. Zubov did not play in the third period of Game 6 with what was reported as a "torso" injury.
On the Canuck front, defenceman Kevin Bieksa did not practice on Sunday with the flu but is expected to play. If he is unable to, Rory Fitzpatrick will take his spot on the blue-line. Matt Cooke, who suffered a groin injury in Game 1, has still not resumed skating.
THE PROVINCE REPORTS
Legacy to avoid
They are the longest standing members of the Vancouver Canucks, and they are well aware that anything short of a victory in Game 7 will leave Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison, and Mattias Ohlund a legacy of being playoff pushovers, writes Ed Willes.
"People are going to form their opinions," said Morrison on Sunday. "If we don't win, we'll be known as the group that couldn't get it done in the playoffs and that's not something we want."
The trio, along with injured Canuck Matt Cooke, are the only players on the current roster who have played in the Canucks' last five postseasons, writes Willes [note: Brent Sopel also played with the Canucks in their last five postseasons in a row including this one although Sopel spent 05-06 with the NY Islanders/LA Kings. The Canucks failed to qualify for the postseason in 05-06.] Canucks captain in particular is one who hopes to shake the reputation of being unable to perform in the postseason and feels his team will come out in Game 7 with a good showing.
"All our coaching staff asks for is hard work," said Naslund. "Sometimes you can't control the outcome, but the effort has to be there and we'll have a good effort [in Game 7]. I'm confident this team will show up tomorrow and it will be a good game."
Sedins time is now
Long awaiting the chance to be considered the team's leaders, the Sedins now have to take responsibility and lead do something with that leadership, writes Jason Botchford. Shut down since Game 1 of the series, the Sedins have for the most part still had a decent series generating scoring chances up until Game 6 when they played their worst game of the series.
"It's only the last game where we've been really disappointed with the way we played," Henrik said. Before that, we were getting six, seven and even eight Grade-A scoring chances a game. It's surprising looking back that weren't able to score."
Twin brother Daniel echoed similar sentiments, but holds out hope that if they keep working hard, they'll break through.
"I have to take responsibility," Daniel said. "We haven't been good enough. We have to get better. We're just lucky that Game 6 wasn't Game 7. I have to keep going and pucks are going to go in. Last game, we didn't work hard enough and that's the bottom line."
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS REPORTS
Safe is death
After falling behind 3-1 in the series, Brendan Morrow publicly criticized his team for playing not to lose. Falling 3-1 in the series and having their backs pushed up against the wall, however, might be what saves their season.
"Had they not been pushed to the wall, they wouldn't have resorted to aggressive play," writes Mike Heika. "Had they not been forced into desperation, they might not have found the team they have become."
Indeed, it would appear the Stars feel that the desperation factor is what has allowed their team to play to the best of their ability and now, have managed to push the Canucks backs against the wall.
"I think desperation is a good thing for us," Morrow said. "Earlier in the series, we kind of sat back and let play come to us. But we've had no choice the last two games. I think we've learned our lesson."
Stars will win. Guaranteed. Says writer...
Thus far in the series, both teams have avoided saying anything which could be turned around and used as motivation in the other team's locker room. But that won't stop Jean-Jacques Taylor from saying what many seem to be thinking now that the Stars have all the momentum in the series.
"Dave Tippett has saved his job. Marty Turco has forged a reputation. And Mike Modano has silenced his critics. All that's left is for Dallas to make history. They'll do it Monday night. Mark it down. It's going to happen," writes Taylor. "The Stars will beat Vancouver and become the first team in franchise history to overcome a 3-1 series deficit.
"The Canucks' recent history of failure, combined with their body language the last two games, leaves absolutely no reason to think they won't blow another 3-1 lead. But it's up to the Stars to finish the series. They must be the aggressor in Game 7 and make Vancouver doubt itself. It won't take much."
Klemm a backup plan
According to the Dallas Stars, there's no reason to think Sergei Zubov won't suit up for tonight's pivotal Game 7, writes Mike Heika. But the Stars are being cautious and still have Zubov listed as a game-time decision. Should he be unable to go, the Stars will dress B.C.-native Jon Klemm. In fact, the Stars might dress him anyways as an extra forward in case Zubov suffers a flare up during the game.
Klemm, who hasn't played yet in the postseason, is itching at the opportunity and feels if he does get into the lineup, even he could potentially play hero.
"I've seen it before, it's what playoffs are all about," Klemm said. "Anybody can be a hero in any game. That's the beauty of the sport. That's why it's such a great team sport. And if you're in the game, you can be the hero. I've seen guys jump into a Game 6 or Game 7 and end up making the most important play of the series. That's why you always have to be ready."
Morrow backs off
Brendan Morrow, as demonstrated throughout this series, has never been one to back off from the opposition on the ice, although he did seem to cool off Sunday regarding the incident with Alex Burrows late in Game 7, reports Kate Hairopoulos.
"It wasn't actually that bad," said Morrow after watching tape of the incident. "I think he just placed it really well. It was a good hit. I feel better today."
THE FORT-WORTH STAR TELEGRAM REPORTS
Depth has sustained Stars
With all the injuries in the series, it's hard to fathom where the Stars would be without the ability to exchange players in and out of the lineup with relative ease. In some ways, the injuries have even been a blessing in that it seems to have given the Stars an advantage in being able to wear down the Canucks with healthy bodies coming into the lineup, writes Tracey Myers.
"[The Stars' depth] has helped coaches make lineup changes where necessary," writes Myers. "Tippett played the physically-minded Joel Lundqvist for the early games, then switched to the quicker Loui Eriksson. Lundqvist and Eriksson both played the past two games, with Antti Miettinen becoming the healthy scratch."
Dallas' depth might be put to the ultimate test tonight should defenceman Sergei Zubov be unable to dress; although Stars' coach Dave Tippett thinks that will be a non-issue come game time.
"Zubie's an old-school guy," Tippett said. "I find it hard to believe he's going to miss a Game 7."