ANAHEIM, CALIF. - So how do you stop Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra?
Former NHL coach Pierre McGuire, now a popular TSN analyst, offers a few ideas:
"They're special, very, very special, so what it takes to shut them down is not a commitment from one or two guys but a five-man commitment."
"You have to win a lot of faceoffs. You don't have possession of the puck, you're dead."
"You have to be physical without taking penalties. You have to funnel everything to the outside because Gaborik's the most explosive one-on-one player in the league."
McGuire said: "The Minnesota team is an unbelievable hockey team to watch, but this is probably the hardest, worst matchup for the guys. They're going to see plenty of [defenseman] Chris Pronger and plenty of [checking center Sami] Pahlsson."
Demitra is well aware. He and Pronger were teammates in St. Louis and "he's the toughest defenseman in the league. He's a good friend, but he's not going to be my friend in the playoffs. He'd do anything to you."
Pronger said Tuesday the friendship will continue "afterward."Most important is not turning pucks over, but [playing physical] is the way we play, and I don't think we can deviate from the way we play too much," Pronger said. "Pav and Gaborik are some explosive guys, but there are ways of tailoring how much they can have the puck and how much they can use that quick-strike capability against you."
Physical Edmonton Oilers captain Jason Smith said: "The only way to get those two off their game is to play them physical. Obviously you can't go out of your way to take a run at them because they're good enough to beat you, but given the opportunity, that's playoff hockey."
Chicago Blackhawks assistant GM Rick Dudley believes brutality will unquestionably be Anaheim's game plan, meaning Demitra and Gaborik better be prepared to battle.
"Pronger will be on the ice a lot, and he's miserable," Dudley said. "Gaborik and Demitra are going to have to deal with that, to know that if they go in the corner or go wide, they may pay the price for that.
"Everything about Pronger ratchets up abuse. He's nasty, really nasty. He'll try to hurt you if he can, and I don't think Pronger will play any differently against Demitra even though they're buddies. I doubt it very much."