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Western standouts Franzen, Morrow top Hot List

by John Kreiser

Johan Franzen became the first player in NHL history to score nine goals in a four-game series. Franzen scores a hat trick in Game 4
Detroit’s “Mule” has carried the Red Wings into the Western Conference Finals, breaking a bunch of records along the way.

Johan Franzen, aka “Mule,” has had the kind of playoff success that most players only dream about. He became the first player in NHL history to get nine goals in a four-game series when he filled the net in the Wings’ second-round win against Colorado. He also broke the team record for goals in a series of any length and goals in one playoff year (11, with the possibility of playing 14 more games). His two three-goal games against the Avs marked the first time any player had accomplished that feat in a series since Edmonton’s Jari Kurri did it in 1985.

That’s impressive for anyone, let alone a player who’s not even on his team’s first line. The Wings hope his stick stays hot in the Western Finals.
Five up — Five players who’ve stepped it up:

Brenden Morrow — Dallas’ captain led the Stars into the Western Finals by word and deed. Especially the latter — he was his team’s best player in the second round against San Jose and scored a pair of overtime goals, including the series-winner in the fourth overtime of Game 6.

Henrik Zetterberg — Zetterberg scored the most spectacular goal of the playoffs { Watch Zetterberg's goal} , but he’s done a lot more than get one memorable goal. Detroit’s No. 1 left wing has done it all so far in the postseason, with seven goals, 13 points and a plus-10 rating through two series. He was 5-4-9 in four games against Colorado.

Marty Turco — The Stars goalie has arguably been the best goaltender through the first two rounds of this year’s playoffs. He outplayed 2003 Conn Smythe winner Jean-Sebastien Giguere in the Stars’ first-round win against Anaheim, then did the same in the second round against Vezina finalist Evgeni Nabokov of San Jose, allowing only eight goals in six games against the Sharks. One caveat: He has never fared well against Detroit, going 2-10 with five ties lifetime against the Stars’ opponent in the Western final.

R.J. Umberger — No one is more responsible for Philadelphia’s surprising second-round win against top-seeded Montreal than Umberger, who had eight goals against the Canadiens and scored at least once in all five games. His nine goals in the first two rounds were just four less than he managed during the regular season.

Jaromir Jagr
— The veteran forward says he wants to play four more years, and after his performance in the first two rounds, he should attract plenty of interest. Jagr was tops among all scorers with 15 points, even though he played only 10 games as the New York Rangers split a pair of five-game series.

Five down — Five players who haven’t:
Jose Theodore — He was Colorado’s MVP in its opening-round win against Minnesota. That success didn’t carry over to Round 2 against Detroit, which saw him knocked out in three of the four games.

Carey Price — Price’s superb rookie season ended with a thud, as he struggled in Montreal’s five-game upset loss to Philadelphia in the second round. He looked shaky in the first three games, was benched for Game 4 and allowed five goals in the fifth game as the Flyers overcame a 3-1 deficit for a 6-4 win.

Brian Campbell — It was not the kind of playoffs that either Campbell or the San Jose Sharks envisioned. Campbell’s up-and-down play ended with a big downer: He was in the penalty box when Dallas scored the winner in the fourth overtime of Game 6, sending the Sharks home for the summer.

Roman Hamrlik — The veteran defenseman was awful in Montreal’s second-round loss to Philadelphia, going scoreless in five games while posting a minus-5 rating. He was especially bad in Game 5 against the Flyers, going minus-3 and making a turnover that led directly to the tying goal.

Brendan Shanahan — Shanahan’s age (39) may be starting to show. He had just one assist in the Rangers’ five-game loss to Pittsburgh while going minus-3. His 23 regular-season goals represented his lowest non-lockout season total since he scored 22 for New Jersey in 1988-89, his second NHL season.

Injuries, news and notes — Will Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg be back in the fall? Neither one would say after Colorado was eliminated by Detroit on May 1. Sakic said he would take the summer to decide whether he’ll return for a 20th NHL season. Forsberg, who sat out Games 1, 2 and 4 against the Wings with groin problems, said he has to be healthy or he’ll hang up his skates.

Out — The Rangers lost agitator Sean Avery and checking center Blair Betts for the rest of their season in Game 3 against Pittsburgh. Avery had to be hospitalized for several days with a lacerated spleen, while Betts sustained a broken cheekbone when he was hit by a puck. … Pittsburgh lost forward Maxime Talbot with a broken foot in Game 3 against the Rangers. … Dallas forward Stu Barnes missed the Stars’ last three games against San Jose with “concussion-like symptoms” sustained in Game 3. … San Jose defenseman Kyle McLaren missed the Sharks’ last seven games with a sore groin and a lower-body injury.

ReturningGary Roberts finally got back in Pittsburgh’s lineup for Game 4 against the Rangers. He was sidelined with a groin problem in the Pens’ first-round series against Ottawa and hadn’t been able to get back until Maxime Talbot went down with a broken foot. … Detroit defenseman Chris Chelios is expected to be ready for Game 1 of the Western Finals against Dallas after sitting out the clincher against Colorado in the previous round with a lower-body injury.

Still out —The Flyers say left wing Simon Gagne, who missed most of the season due to concussions, won’t play in the postseason. He was with the team in Montreal, but GM Paul Holmgren said it’s in his best interest not to play.

Non-playoff teamsMarian Gaborik, Minnesota’s top regular-season scorer, underwent minor arthroscopic hip surgery on May 2 to repair a torn labrum. … Boston captain Zdeno Chara had successful shoulder surgery and should be ready for training camp in September. His defense partner, Dennis Wideman, is scheduled to have hernia surgery.

The week ahead — The NHL’s version of the Final Four gets under way Thursday when Dallas visits Detroit to start the Western Conference Finals. In the East, it’s an all-Pennsylvania affair, starting Friday when Philadelphia visits Pittsburgh.


Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh -- No back-to-backs, games every other day except for an extra day off between Game 4 on May 14 and Game 5 on Sunday afternoon May 17.

Dallas vs. Detroit --Also no back-to-backs, with games every other day and an extra day off between Game 4 on May 13 and Game 5 on Saturday afternoon May 16. Longer trips, though, than the Eastern finalists, who only have to go across their state.

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