Carbonneau too experienced to worry

By Phil Coffey for, May 31, 2000


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- After 18 seasons in the NHL, noting much phases Guy Carbonneau. The 40-year-old center for the Dallas Stars has 1,318 regular-season games under his belt, as well as over 200 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

So, a little thing like dropping Game 1 of the 2000 Stanley Cup Finals to the New Jersey Devils isn't going to send Carbonneau, or any of the Stars for that matter, into a tizzy.

In Carboneau's case, he has seen too many series to place undo emphasis on a single game. Conversely, he has seeen too many series to ignore what happened to the Stars in Game 1 when they were throughly outplayed by the Devils at Continental Airlines Arena.

"This is nothing new for us," Carbonneau said matter-of-factly after watching a fair number of the Stars take part in the optional skate at the arena. "It is way too early. We know where we are and we know where we stand."

Which is down one game to an Eastern Conference championship team in the Devils that has continued to play outstanding hockey after roaring back from a three games to one deficit to oust the Philadelphia Flyers.

"Give them a lot of credit," Carbonneau said of the Devils. "They're not in the Finals for nothing."

Neither are the Stars, the defending Cup champions. And Carbonneau, a three-time Cup champ with the Stars and Montreal Canadiens, did his part to salvage some respectability from the Stars' Game 1 misfortune.

He set up both of Dallas' third-period goals, winning a draw in the New Jersey end and setting up a Jon Simms' first goal and seconds last threading the needle to Kirk Muller for the Stars' third goal of the season.

"We weren't willing to win the battles in the corners," Carbonneau said. "To win, you have to go into the corner and not get beat.

"I don't think we suffered from a lack of concentration," he said. "It was a lack of will to outbattle the opposition.

"These are two teams that have played over 100 games this season," he continued. "Are we tired? Do we have bumps and bruises? Yes. But if you can't find the energy to play in the Finals ..."

Carbonneau spoke without anger or concern. You sensed the issue of Game 1 already has been addressed and the Stars now move on to taking the home-ice advantage away from the Stars in Game 2 Thursday night.

Carbonneau said one adjustment the Stars will have to make is trying to checn New Jersey's top line of Jason Arnott, Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora, which accounted fof four of the Devils goals.

"Obviously, we have to take a better look at them," Carbonneau said. "Being on the road, sometimes it's tough to get the players you want out there, but we have home games coming and will be able to make the right adjustments."

Stars coach Ken Hitchcock agreed.

"I think that, quite frankly, they are the best counterattack team in the National Hockey League, and that is one of the crucial areas that we have to be aware of. We have to be much better in that area so that we are not giving them those easy opportunities.

"We were behind in energy," Hitchcock said. "We were behind in executions. We were behind in enthusiasm and awareness on the ice, and that is not like our team.

"But we have an obligation to ourselves and the organization to find that energy back again. We have got to do it.

"Whatever we do has to include kind of writing off yesterday and start something anew because they are ahead of us. in a lot of areas."

The good news for the Stars is the players already seem to have put Game 1 behind them. In reality, there is no other choice.