Spotlight on the Stanley Cup: Offense
The late-season return of star center Sergei Fedorov from a contract-related holdout has given the Red Wings the NHL's most potent offense. Their depth up front is unmatched and they currently have the playoffs' top four scorers and six of the top 11. It's no surprise that center Steve Yzerman, top-scoring defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and Fedorov all have assumed their familiar spots in the top three, but Tomas Holmstrom in fourth? The second-year forward managed just five goals over the course of the regular season but has already amassed six goals and 14 points coming into the finals.
And by the way, don't forget about perennial all-star Brendan Shanahan, who has been eerily quiet in the playoffs but can strike at any time. His health is rumored to be less than 100 percent but whose isn't this time of year? Look for him to have a big series. Add in Russian staples Victor Kozlov and Igor Larionov and there's no mystery to the Wings' ability to score goals in bunches.
How bad can an offense be if it has a 50-goal scorer on its second line? Right wing Peter Bondra, who tied for the league lead with 52, can flat out score, quietly averaging 50 goals over the past three seasons despite playing with a myriad of linemates over that span. He is centered by the speedy Andrei Nikolishin and is flanked on the left side by rookie Richard Zednik. Zednik has made the most of being placed on a line with fellow Slovakian Bondra, scoring six goals in the first three rounds of the playoffs.
The Caps first line is comprised of veterans Adam Oates, Joe Juneau and Brian Bellows. Since signing with the Capitals late in the season, Bellows has been a worthy complement to Oates, the greatest passer in the 90's whose last name isn't Gretzky. After a season of nagging injuries, Juneau has returned to form with four game-winning goals in the playoffs, two in overtime.
Of the Caps 46 goals thus far in the playoffs, 28 have been from the top two lines and 13 have come from defensemen, leaving only five from the rest of the team. The top-heavy offensive unit has done enough to get them into the finals but will need some production from the likes of veterans Esa Tikkanen and Todd Krygier against the Wings.
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