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Avalanche-Red Wings Preview @NHLdotcom

Leading the Central Division by a comfortable margin with one of the league's best records proves the Detroit Red Wings aren't experiencing a Stanley Cup hangover.

Usually reliable goaltender Chris Osgood, however, is one player that appears to have lost something.

Osgood looks to lead the Red Wings to their sixth straight home win on Monday night when they face the Colorado Avalanche in a rematch of last season's Western Conference semifinals.

Although he ranks 12th on the all-time wins list (375) and is a three-time Stanley Cup winner, Osgood has been overshadowed throughout much of his 14-year career. He proved his value again, though, in last season's playoffs, going 14-4-0 with a 1.55 goals-against average and three shutouts in leading Detroit (20-5-4) to the Stanley Cup.

With Dominik Hasek having retired, Osgood entered this season as the Red Wings' undisputed No. 1 goalie with Ty Conklin as his backup. While it's hard to argue with Osgood's 12-1-4 record, his 3.20 GAA ranks near the bottom of the league and his .875 save percentage is last.

"The way it's going I'm just trying to push onward and play better and better," Osgood said. "I'm close to where I want to be but I'm not over that hump yet."

Conklin made three straight starts before Osgood returned to the net on Saturday at Phoenix. After allowing four goals on 28 shots through overtime, Osgood denied the final three shootout attempts to lift the Red Wings to a 5-4 victory.

"The type of competitor he is, he hasn't been happy to see the other goalie out there the last three nights," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We're always trying to get his competitive juices flowing. He's a competitor. He's a pro and he's one of the best of all time."

Johan Franzen scored twice in regulation for Detroit, which has won five of six overall and five in a row at home - the last four by one goal.

Osgood has been helped by an offense that ranks third in the NHL in goals (105) and first in power-play conversion (29.2). Detroit and San Jose are the only teams with at least seven players with 20 or more points.

Colorado (14-14-1) opens a four-game road trip after concluding a three-game homestand on Friday with a 4-3 loss to Chicago.

That marked the second time in seven games (4-2-1) that the Avalanche failed to record at least one point. Playing on the road, though, has been a problem for Colorado, which is 2-4-1 in its last seven away from the Pepsi Center.

The Avs have lost four straight in the regular season against the Red Wings, failing to score a goal in each of the last three matchups. Including four consecutive losses in last season's playoffs, the Avalanche have been outscored 32-11 during eight straight losses to Detroit.

"You have to try to limit their time and space. At the same time, when you have the puck you can't give it up," Colorado defenseman John-Michael Liles told his team's official Web site. "You have to make smart plays, but at the same time you have to remember that the more time you have the puck, the more you take them out of their game."

Colorado's Andrew Raycroft is scheduled to start in his first appearance since Nov. 29. He is 2-1-0 with a 1.85 GAA in three career starts against Detroit.

EA SPORTS NHL09 Game Predictions
Detroit 3
Three Stars
G: 2 | A: 0

S: 17 | SV: 17

G: 1 | A: 1


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