Spotlight on the Stanley Cup: Defense
Not a whole lot of weakness here either. The Wings' exceptional defense, led by Norris Trophy finalist Lidstrom, has given up a paltry 2.00 goals per game over the past two series with Dallas and St. Louis (the top two offenses in the league aside from Detroit). Veteran Larry Murphy is one of only six defensemen in history to record 1,000 points in a career. No slouch in his own zone either, he had the second-best plus/minus rating in the NHL this season at +35 and is already +7 during the playoffs. Aside from these two, who log the most ice time, the Wings will also look to "stay at home" veterans Bob Rouse, Jamie Macoun and Slava Fetisov to try to contain Bondra.
For the most part solid, but the occasional defensive lapses that occurred against previous playoff opponents Boston, Ottawa and Buffalo, will not work against the Wings' high-flying offense. The Caps have tightened up their defense since the opening series vs. Boston, but the 41 shots allowed to Buffalo in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals can not be repeated.
There's no lack of offensive skill from the Washington blue line either. The Caps have a 1,000 point defenseman of their own in Phil Housley, though his role as a regular contributor has been reduced and he's become more of a power play specialist. Sergei Gonchar and Calle Johansson should give Detroit goalie Chris Osgood nightmares, while Mark Tinordi and Joe Reekie are both underrated defensive defensemen. The Caps acquired defensive forward Esa Tikkanen, known for shadowing opponents' star forwards during the playoffs, but which star forward does Tikkanen shadow?
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