THE TIMES’ RANKINGS
HELENE ELLIOTT’S NHL RANKINGS AND COMMENTS:
GAME OF THE WEEK
*--* Rk. Team (Rec.) Comment 1 OTTAWA (52-21-8-1) No weaknesses or excuses. 2 NEW JERSEY (46-20-10-6) Champions go for a repeat. 3 DETROIT (48-20-10-4) Yzerman is gimpy but game. 4 VANCOUVER (45-23-13-1) Naslund, Bertuzzi, Jovo. Enough said. 5 COLORADO (42-19-13-8) Aebischer will get offensive support. 6 DALLAS (46-17-15-4) Still solid at core without Hatcher. 7 MIGHTY DUCKS (40-27-9-6) Potential to excel at both ends. 8 TORONTO (44-28-7-3) Belfour can’t falter behind weak defense. 9 ST. LOUIS (41-24-11-6) Sound Pronger, solid defense big strengths. 10 PHILADELPHIA (45-20-13-4) Hackett probably can’t hack it. 11 TAMPA BAY (36-25-16-5) Khabibulin under pressure. 12 WASHINGTON (39-29-8-6) Jagr’s attitude is key. 13 MINNESOTA (42-29-10-1) Will hope to win every game, 1-0. 14 KINGS (33-37-6-6) Could thrive if Allison, Deadmarsh return soon. 15 N.Y. ISLANDERS (35-34-11-2) Peca an impressive leader. 16 N.Y. RANGERS (32-36-10-4) Better chemistry, maybe better defense. 17 BUFFALO (27-37-10-8) Solid financial footing helps morale. 18 EDMONTON (36-26-11-9) Offense-first style bucks NHL trend. 19 BOSTON (36-31-11-4) Goaltending, defense look weak. 20 COLUMBUS (29-42-8-3) Speed, tenacity their long suits. 21 CHICAGO (30-33-13-6) Will anyone care while Cubs are playing? 22 SAN JOSE (28-37-9-8) Adjusting to front-office, on-ice turnover. 23 MONTREAL (30-35-8-9) Marcel Hossa could be a big gun. 24 CAROLINA (22-43-11-6) No. 2 pick Eric Staal worth watching. 25 PITTSBURGH (27-44-6-5) Mario will have to do it solo. 26 PHOENIX (31-35-11-5) Kids are a few years away. 27 FLORIDA (24-36-13-9) Keenan finds tough going. 28 CALGARY (29-36-13-4) Not enough depth. 29 ATLANTA (31-39-7-5) Snyder-Heatley tragedy a big burden. 30 NASHVILLE (27-35-13-7) Diligence isn’t enough.
Mighty Ducks at Dallas
Wednesday, 5 p.m. , ESPN
Much has changed since the Ducks eliminated the Stars from the playoffs last spring in a six-game series in the second round. The Ducks lost Paul Kariya to free agency but signed Sergei Fedorov and Vinny Prospal, and the Stars lost Kevin Hatcher to free agency. After waiving Pierre Turgeon and finding no takers, the Stars moved the veteran center to the wing, where he has done well. Goalie Marty Turco missed the start of training camp but signed a three-year, $12-million deal early on. The Stars fared best against the Ducks when they were physical, so this should be a bruising game.