Dominik Hasek has really been sticking it to the Dallas Stars. Ask Coach Ken Hitchcock, who is angry over the way the Buffalo Sabres' goaltender drops his stick on the ice during play around his net.

"I have a real problem with that because he uses it perfectly as a stopper," Hitchcock said. "It's bothered a lot of coaches in the league because we don't allow hockey players to play like that, so why should the goaltender play like that?

"Not only does the stick get dropped but it gets strategically placed. I don't like it if there's a double set of standards for people."

The Injury Non-Report

Sabres Coach Lindy Ruff was talking about how injuries are so much a part of hockey -- especially this late in the season.

"I think if you actually had the count of injuries, the number would be unbelievable," Ruff said, then without skipping a beat added, ". . . although our team is completely healthy right now."

That got a chuckle from reporters, who are well aware of how hockey teams tend to hide their players' injuries for a tactical advantage. . . .

Stars center Mike Modano's wrist injury might affect his game somewhat, but he will be no worse than any of the other Stars, according to Hitchcock. "The players put it best," Hitchcock said. "It's about time he feels like the rest of them -- average hands."

A Ray of Toughness

Rob Ray was excited about making his first start in the finals for the Sabres tonight. He was inserted into the lineup to give Buffalo more of a physical presence in front of Hasek. "They think that's what they need to do to win the game," Ray said of the Stars' plan of creating traffic in front of the Buffalo net.