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No. 1 Detroit vs. No. 6 Colorado

by Staff


The bad blood may have dissipated in the past few years, but it won't take much to rekindle this rivalry, one of the best in recent playoff history.

From 1996 to 2002, the Colorado Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings ruled the Western Conference. As a result, they met an astounding five times in the playoffs during that stretch. Colorado won three of those five series and took 17 of the 30 games.

Brett McLean of the Avalanche goes in for the score on goalie Chris Osgood of the Red Wings in an overtime shootout on September 23, 2006. Wings-Avalanche highlights
But the theater this rivalry provided almost outweighed the actual results. Colorado's Claude Lemieux never will be forgotten for taking the series to a whole new level in 1996 with a horrendous hit on Kris Draper. Who can forget the goalies – Colorado's Patrick Roy and Detroit's Chris Osgood – duking it out at center ice? And what of the Statue of Liberty goal allowed by Roy in 2002?

It is those seminal moments that have become the fabric of this rivalry, and this series certainly has the potential to add to that rich legacy – in part because many of the participants still are hanging around.

"I don't get too excited, or look too far ahead or in the past. I play in the now." - Detroit goalie Chris Osgood
In Detroit, Osgood is back in net, Nicklas Lidstrom still is patrolling the blue line and Grind Line staples Draper and Kirk Maltby still are doing their things for the Wings. Joe Sakic remains the face of Colorado, as he was during the height of this rivalry, and recently he was joined by some old running mates.

Colorado management signed free agent forward Peter Forsberg Feb. 25 and then traded for defenseman Adam Foote the next day. Both were major players in the original incarnation of this rivalry. Now, they will be on hand to pass on the oral history to a new generation of players that will take up the crusade.

"It's a good group that's fun to be a part of because everybody's focused and stays on an even level." - Colorado defenseman Adam Foote
Detroit, though, will enter this edition of the rivalry with a clear upper hand. Not only did the Red Wings win the Presidents' Trophy with a 115-point season and finish 20 points ahead of Colorado in the standings, but Detroit also won all four regular-season meetings between the clubs. In fact, Colorado didn't score a goal in the last three games and enters this series having not scored against Detroit in 214 minutes of game action.

But as past playoff meetings have proven, supposed advantages mean little when these rivals get down to business.


Detroit will win if --  It stays patient. There will be valleys in this series, which will be played at an emotional pitch. Detroit must weather these setbacks and lulls without becoming too emotionally invested, much in the same way it survived a rough patch in the first round against Nashville. Detroit's talent should be allowed to tell the tale here.

Colorado will win if -- It gets superior goaltending from Jose Theodore. Nashville's Dan Ellis put a healthy scare into the Wings in the first round by standing on his head and stealing back-to-back games. Theodore is a better – and more experienced – goalie than Ellis. He stole the last two games in the first round against Minnesota and is playing his best hockey in years.

GAME 1:  Red Wings 4, Avalanche 3
Game Highlights |  Photo Gallery
Game 2:  April 26 @ Detroit
3 p.m. ET, NBC, TSN
Game 3:  April 29 @ Colorado
10 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN
Game 4:  May 1 @ Colorado
10 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN
Game 5:  May 3 @ Detroit*
1 p.m. ET, NBC, TSN
GAME 6: May 5 @ Colorado*
10 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN
GAME 7: May 7 @ Detroit*
* if necessary
* Since replacing Dominik Hasek in Game 4 against the Nashville Predators, goalie Chris Osgood has yielded just one goal while facing 54 shots, for a 0.30 goals-against average.

* After scoring just three goals in his first 42 playoff games, Detroit center Pavel Datsyuk has scored 11 times in his last 24 playoff games, including three goals in six games in the first round against the Predators.

* Nicklas Lidstrom set a franchise record by appearing in the playoffs for 16-straight seasons. Prior to that, Steve Yzerman appeared in the playoffs 15 consecutive times before retiring in 2006.

* Colorado allowed fewer than three goals in all four of its first-round victories against Minnesota and didn't give up more than three goals in any game in the series. The Avs scored just four third-period goals and lost two out of three overtime games.

* Avalanche left wing Andrew Brunette never has been a plus player in a playoff season and has a minus-10 rating in 39 career playoff games. Despite playing 12 regular seasons in the NHL, Brunette has been to the playoffs just four times.
Chris OsgoodRed Wings coach Mike Babcock has made it clear Osgood will start the second round in goal after relieving Dominik Hasek. In three first-round appearances against Nashville, Osgood stopped 53 of 54 shots.

Peter ForsbergThe veteran Swede leads the franchise in postseason assists (101) and is second in points (159). If Foppa continues to skate and move the puck as he did against the Wild, he'll create problems for any opponent this postseason.  



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