Leaders make points behind closed doors

Updated: April 21, 2004, 2:35 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- From Ray Bourque to Patrick Roy, the Colorado Avalanche have had their share of vocal leaders.

Not this year.

With Roy gone to retirement, leadership duties this season fell into the hands of Rob Blake, Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Adam Foote. None of those players are likely to speak out in public to rally their teammates, but Avalanche coach Tony Granato said that shouldn't be confused with lack of leadership.

"There isn't a guy who's going to stand up and bang sticks on the wall or kick water bottles or anything that dramatic, but when something has to be said they'll all step up and say it," Granato said Friday. "The guys that we have at those positions have always stepped up at the right opportunities and led the way."

Which usually means they do it from behind closed doors, which is the way Granato prefers it.

"You don't see a certain side of them when something has to be said," Granato said. "Those type of things that are said in the locker room are said to stay in the locker room because that's what great leaders do.

"They're not going to come out and publish a book on why they're a great leader, they're going to say something that needs to be said at the right time."

Crash or burn
For the Stars to have any chance of rallying to win three straight games and the series, they will need to do a better job of crashing the net.

Colorado has been effective at driving the crease for rebounds and tips, but Dallas has been relegated to shooting from the perimeter for most of the series.

"You have to keep pounding the net. That's just the way it is," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "You have to be willing to get to the net and battle for rebounds, for screens and for your space. It enhances our chances for scoring. That is the bottom line."

Problem is, the Avalanche aren't letting them.

By standing the Stars up in the neutral zone, Colorado hasn't allowed players like Mike Modano and Bill Guerin get up a head of steam across the blue line. The Avalanche also have clogged the middle shooting lanes, forcing Dallas to shoot from near the blue line and from along the boards.

"We have to be in good position when they're entering our zone so we're not allowing them odd-numbered attacks, not allowing them speed to get through to our net," Granato said. "Our D has been very solid at that. That's one of the things that their responsibility is keeping Dallas -- keeping any team we play -- to the outside."

Loose pucks
Avalanche LW Alex Tanguay didn't practice Friday after bruising his leg in overtime of Game 4, but Granato said he should play on Saturday. The news wasn't as good on RW Paul Kariya. He won't play in Game 5 and is still out "indefinitely" with a sprained ankle. ... Dallas practiced for just 32 minutes on Friday. ... As Granato walked toward a post-practice media session, top forward Milan Hejduk was still out on the ice shooting at an open net. No surprise to the coach. "That's the same way every day," Granato said. "Milan, you've got to get the big hook to get him off the ice. He loves being around the ice, he loves shooting pucks, he loves that work ethic and he always thinks he can do one more thing in practice to get ready for the next game. That's his attitude."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press