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IN THE CREASE
Pierre McGuire
April 06, 1998
The maple leafs were only five points out of the final spot in the Western Conference playoff race at week's end, despite having only one bona fide scoring threat in center Mats Sundin. A big reason was their penalty killing, which ranked fourth in the NHL. Good penalty killing is accomplished by winning face-offs, getting solid goaltending and closing down passing and shooting lanes....
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April 06, 1998

In The Crease

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The maple leafs were only five points out of the final spot in the Western Conference playoff race at week's end, despite having only one bona fide scoring threat in center Mats Sundin. A big reason was their penalty killing, which ranked fourth in the NHL. Good penalty killing is accomplished by winning face-offs, getting solid goaltending and closing down passing and shooting lanes....

Here are the Cup contenders who made the best deals right before the March 24 trading deadline, in order: l) the Red Wings, who acquired defense-men Dmitri Mironov and Jamie Macoun—the former to help the power play, the latter to add veteran leadership and depth; 2) the Avalanche, who needed grittiness and got it in wingers Warren Rychel and Tom Fitzgerald; and 3) the injury-depleted Stars, who needed depth and picked up playoff-hardened veteran forwards Mike Keane and Brian Skrudland. By acquiring Keane, Dallas also kept him away from Colorado, which was pursuing him....

Give the Hurricanes credit for obtaining former 50-goal forward Ray Sheppard. That deal allows Carolina to create two effective offensive lines: Sheppard will play with Keith Primeau and Martin Gelinas; the second line will be Jeff O'Neill, Gary Roberts and Sami Kapanen. This balance will keep teams from focusing on one line and help the Hurricanes try to snag the last playoff spot in the East....

Dominik Hasek is the best goalie in the world, but the Sabres are proving they are not just a one-man team. Buffalo, which has gone 18-7-9 since Dec. 29, has tremendous team speed and an underrated defense, led by Alexei Zhitnik. That defense moves the puck quickly and precisely through the middle of the ice, thus allowing the team's skilled forwards the room to use their speed. Credit assistant coach Mike Ramsey, the former Sabres defensive specialist, with helping the Buffalo back line improve as the year has progressed.

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