WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS

Apr 9, 2007 - 11:42 PM #No. 3 Vancouver vs. No. 6 Dallas # -----------------------------------

By Scott Erskine PA SportsTicker Hockey Editor

The Western Conference quarterfinal series between the Vancouver Canucks and Dallas Stars likely will resemble the regular-season set between the clubs.

Each of the four meetings this campaign were 2-1 decisions, with each team winning twice. As if that does not reflect the closeness of the matchups enough, Vancouver needed a shootout to post one of its triumphs, while Dallas emerged victorious in overtime on one occasion.

While both clubs possess a top-flight goaltender, the low-scoring affairs likely had more to do with their weak offenses. The Canucks won the Northwest Division despite finishing fourth among the five teams with just 222 goals. In the Pacific, the Stars also were fourth with 226 tallies - one fewer than the Los Angeles Kings, who trailed Dallas in the standings by 39 points.

The intensity normally associated with the Stanley Cup Playoffs surely will be present in this series. The lack of scoring also will be, but having Roberto Luongo square off with Marty Turco in his first career postseason should make the matchup worth watching.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS -----------------

WHAT'S RIGHT: Luongo finally got the chance to prove what he could do behind a capable defense. Hung out to dry nearly every night during his tenure with the Florida Panthers, the All-Star netminder finished in the top five in victories (47) and save percentage (.921) in his first season with the Canucks, giving himself a solid chance at the Vezina Trophy and making Vancouver fans forget about Todd Bertuzzi. ... Thanks to Luongo and their strong defense, the Canucks boasted the league's best penalty-killing unit, successfully killing 86.9 percent of their shorthanded situations. ... The Sedin twins continued to improve offensively. Daniel led the team with 36 goals and 84 points, while Henrik also posted career highs with 71 assists and 81 points. Daniel also led the NHL with four overtime goals.

WHAT'S WRONG: After the Sedins, no Canuck registered more than 60 points. Captain Markus Naslund scored just 24 goals, marking the first time he failed to reach the 30-tally plateau in six seasons, while Brendan Morrison's points total (51) dipped for the third consecutive campaign. ... Vancouver enters the postseason in a bit of a funk, having lost three of its last five regular-season games and three of the final four contests at General Motors Place. ... Of the eight playoff teams in the Western Conference, the Canucks finished with the lowest goals total. In fact, two of the seven clubs that failed to qualify for the postseason netted more tallies than Vancouver. ... The Canucks have not had much success against Turco, winning just three of the 16 all-time meetings with the Stars goalie.

WHAT WAS SAID: "They play well within their system. They are a patient team, so we are going to have to be the same and take advantage of some power plays and some turnovers." - G Roberto Luongo

INJURIES: D Kevin Bieksa (foot - 1 game); C Josh Green (knee - 18 games); C Ryan Kesler (hip - 34 games); D Lukas Krajicek (shoulder - 2 games)

DALLAS STARS ------------

WHAT'S RIGHT: Nothing gives a team more confidence than entering the playoffs on a roll. Over their final 11 regular-season games, the Stars earned at least one point 10 times (8-1-2). ... Mike Modano had a sub-par offensive season for the second time in the last three campaigns, but he has elevated his play at the right time. In his last 17 games, the former 50-goal scorer registered 10 tallies and seven assists. The Michigan native also became the all-time leader in goals by an American-born player with 507, passing Hall of Famer Joey Mullen. ... Defenseman Philippe Boucher had the best season of his 14-year career, recording 19 goals and 51 points while making his first trip to an All-Star Game. With the event taking place in Dallas, Boucher received an added bonus as he was chosen by Western Conference coach Randy Carlyle to replace the injured Scott Niedermayer in the starting lineup. ... Turco continued his mastery of the Canucks during the regular season, going 2-0-1 to raise his lifetime record against Vancouver to 13-2-1.

WHAT'S WRONG: The Stars had just two players reach the 20-goal mark this season, with Jere Lehtinen leading the team with 26. Modano netted 22 but did not score his 20th until the 76th game of the campaign. ... While Vancouver had just two players register more than 60 points, Dallas had none. Mike Ribeiro paced the club with 59 points after Boucher led the Stars in scoring for a good portion of the season. ... Despite Turco's success against the Canucks, his postseason history has management concerned. After winning his first career playoff series against Edmonton in the 2003 conference quarterfinals, Turco has lost each of his last three series, going 4-12. He has won just one game each of the last two postseasons and has yet to record a playoff shutout. If the Stars find themselves in trouble, they may turn to rookie Mike Smith.

WHAT WAS SAID: "We are certainly used to tight games, and we have gone through so much this regular season to show us what kind of team we have and create our identity. We are very driven and have earned lots of confidence. I am looking forward to the opportunity to experience a lot of success from here on out." - G Marty Turco

INJURIES: RW Krys Barch (upper body - 3 games); RW Matthew Barnaby (concussion - 38 games); RW Jere Lehtinen (lower body - 4 games); C Eric Lindros (groin - 16 games); C Patrik Stefan (hip - 25 games)

HEAD-TO-HEAD PLAYOFF HISTORY ----------------------------

1994 Western Conference finals - Vancouver, 4-1






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