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TRANSITION GAME LONNIE WHITE

Anaheim Is in Need of Answer

May 05, 2003|LONNIE WHITE

If you enjoy intense playoff hockey, tonight's Game 6 between the Mighty Ducks and Dallas Stars at the Arrowhead Pond is sure to have plenty of fast skating, hard hitting and attitude after the Stars physically beat up the Ducks in Game 5.

After holding a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference series, this is a virtual must-win game for the Ducks, who do not want to go back to Dallas for Game 7. So expect Mike Babcock's team to throw everything at the Stars.

The Ducks may not be the biggest team around, but they play with plenty of heart, which is one reason why they've advanced this far in the playoffs. But now they have to show some killer instinct, take the play to the Stars and not rely on goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere to save the day.

A breakdown of Game 6:

DUCKS' MOVE -- During the regular season, Giguere was pulled four times because of poor play and he didn't exactly dominate in his next starts. Giguere, who gave up three goals in 19 shots before being yanked Saturday, gave up at least four goals in three of his four outings after bad games. Giguere and the Ducks can't afford to have that happen tonight.

The Ducks have been strong on defense this season and it's safe to say that they'll return to form tonight after giving up four goals in Game 5. Taking advantage of their scoring opportunities is a different story. Dallas may have dominated Saturday, but the Ducks had a couple of great scoring chances early, especially up the middle of the ice in transition before they fell behind.

During the playoffs, the crowds at the Pond have been pretty weak. The only edge the Ducks have had is Babcock's ability to get the line combinations that he wants.

The more Babcock is able to get his top scorers, Paul Kariya and Petr Sykora, on the ice with Dallas defenseman Derian Hatcher on the bench, the better for the Ducks, who want to match Steve Rucchin and Keith Carney against Mike Modano's line when possible.

DALLAS' MOVE -- The Stars have to play with the same passion and desire that they displayed Saturday, or their season will be over. So expect more of the same tonight from Coach Dave Tippett's team, which made attacking Giguere a top priority in Game 5.

Dallas again will try to throw Giguere off his game by bumping and slashing him as much as possible. This tactic gets Giguere's teammates to collapse more, which helps distract the Duck goalie because of the additional traffic around the net.

Stu Barnes and Niko Kapanen, non-factors for the first four games of the series, were more effective with Saturday's grittier play and accounted for three of the Stars' goals.

Dallas' blue-liners were more active on offense in Game 5, jumping into plays they normally stay away from. This helped get more shots on goal but it's also a gamble against the Ducks' speed. It will be interesting to see how aggressive the Star defensemen are on offense in the first period tonight.

Defenseman Sergei Zubov played his best game of the series Saturday, not because he finished with a plus-3 rating but because of his hustle and outlet passes. The Stars also played a lot better with Scott Young out of the lineup.

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