Avalanche-Red Wings Preview
GAME: Colorado Avalanche (31-11-10-4) at Detroit Red Wings (32-15-8-2).
TIME: Saturday, 3 p.m. EST.
There is never a shortage of star power when the Colorado Avalanche and the
Detroit Red Wings renew their often heated rivalry.
For once, however, none of those stars will be in goal.
The Avalanche hope to continue their remarkable run of road success when
they face the Red Wings - the NHL's best home team.
Colorado and Detroit have combined to win five of the past eight Stanley Cup
titles and are two of the leading contenders to win again this season. The
Avalanche and Philadelphia are tied for the league lead with 76 points, with
Detroit and Toronto two points behind.
Future Hall of Famer Patrick Roy was Colorado's goaltender for the past
eight years before retiring before this season.
Many questioned whether the mostly untested David Aebischer could handle
being the starting goalie for an elite team, but the 26-year-old is quietly
putting together an excellent season with 24 wins and a 2.03 goals-against
Aebischer stopped 29 shots for his fourth shutout of the season in a 4-0
victory at St. Louis on Thursday.
"He's played great all year," Avalanche defenseman Derek Morris said.
"Even when he thinks he's played bad, he hasn't. He's been the key to why we
win a lot of games."
Dominik Hasek - another future Hall of Famer - was expected to be Detroit's
starting goalie in 2003-04 but a groin injury has ended his season. Curtis
Joseph, who is earning $8 million this season, has been the team's No. 1 goalie
the past two months, but will miss least a week with a sprained right ankle.
Without Hasek and Joseph, Manny Legace - 62-21-15 in five seasons with
Detroit - is expected to start at least the next three games.
"It's my job to step up and give the team a chance to win," Legace said.
"It's been my job for the last five years here. It just means that I'm going
to play a couple more games in a row than I used to."
Beating the Avalanche won't be easy for Legace.
Colorado has lost just three of 28 road games in regulation this season
(15-3-7-3) and has earned at least a point in 23 of its last 24 away from home,
including 14 in a row. That's the NHL's best run of success on the road since
the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens had a point in 24 of 25 road games.
"We play a simple game on the road," Morris said. "We get home and
everybody's tendency is to be too relaxed. We try too many fancy plays."
Colorado's success isn't just limited to the road. The Avs have points in 11
consecutive games (6-0-3-2) overall.
Detroit is also playing very well, going unbeaten in its last six (4-0-2),
including three straight wins.
Captain Steve Yzerman scored twice to lead the Red Wings to a 4-2 victory
over San Jose on Wednesday, their league-leading 20th home win of the season.