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Minnesota Wild-Colorado Avalanche Game Breakers

Monday, 04.07.2008 / 12:06 PM / 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs

By Staff

Marian Gaborik -- The 26-year-old wing enjoyed his finest regular season ever, as he recorded 83 points for the first time in his career. While some star players struggle in the playoffs, Gaborik steps up his game. When Minnesota reached the semifinals in 2003, Gaborik had 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in 18 games. He also had three goals in five games last year against the Ducks.

Brian Rolston -- The veteran forward reached the 30-goal plateau for the third straight season, with roughly one-third of those goals coming on the power play. His production with the man advantage will be crucial for a team that saw only two players (Rolston and Gaborik) score at least 20 goals. The 35-year-old Rolston, who hasn't won a Stanley Cup since his rookie season with the New Jersey Devils in 1994-95, has a knack for scoring big goals, as he led the Wild in game-winning tallies this season.

Niklas Backstrom -- The 30-year-old goalie appeared in his first postseason in 2007 and started all five games for the Wild. Clearly, Minnesota didn't lose because of its goaltending, as Backstrom stopped 134 of 145 shots against the Ducks. While his regular-season goals-against average went up a tad from last season -- when it was a phenomenal 1.97--  Backstrom enjoyed his first 30-win campaign in 2007-08.

Joe Sakic --
The most prolific point-producer in Avalanche history, Sakic has always come up big in the postseason, as evidenced by his 178 points in 162 playoff games. Sakic ranks seventh in League history in playoff goals (82) and 11th in points. The 11th player in NHL history to crack 1,000 assists, Sakic will provide a wealth of experience and production for the Avs, as long as he remains healthy.

Paul Stastny --
After missing out on the playoffs in his rookie season, Stastny now receives his chance to shine on the grand stage. The son of Hockey Hall of Famer Peter Stastny, Paul is a left-handed center who still uses a wooden stick, a rarity in today's game. His intelligence and playmaking ability will suit him well in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Andrew Brunette --
A veteran of 12 NHL seasons, Brunette is often playing on the same line as Sakic. Brunette has collected 26 points in 33 playoffs games, including nine points in nine games with Colorado during the 2006 postseason. He finished second to Paul Stastny in the team scoring race after establishing career highs in goals (27), assists (56) and points (83) last winter.

Quote of the Day

We don't know how long Carey will be out, but for us, it's business as usual.

— Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien on goaltender Carey Price, who is on injured reserve with a lower-body injury
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