ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - The long break between series has been driving some of the Colorado Avalanche players bonkers.
Not Peter Forsberg. He couldn't have asked for a better scenario. "Rest is a weapon. Rest is great," Forsberg said. "I never mind rest." Forsberg and the Avalanche will certainly be well-rested for their next series against Detroit, which will start Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.
The Avalanche clinched their series with Minnesota on Saturday, and have been waiting around ever since. They'll face the Red Wings, a familiar playoff adversary, after San Jose's win over Calgary on Tuesday night.
"The days off will pay off at one point," said Ian Laperriere, whose team was 0-4 against Detroit in the regular season, and was outscored 11-2.
It already has for Forsberg, who's feeling energized by the break. He even stayed an extra 30 minutes on the ice following practice Tuesday.
Then again, he was given the previous two days off.
"Miss two days and it feels like you've never been out there before," Forsberg said.
Joe Sakic would disagree with that. He's been impressed with how fast Forsberg's game has come around. The 34-year-old Swede signed with Colorado on Feb. 25 after being out of hockey for nearly 10 months as he tried to recover from foot ailments.
"He's still that dominating force, especially when he has the puck," Sakic said. "That never has really changed. It's great to have him back."
Sakic is elated the gang has been reunited for another go-around in the playoffs. Sakic, Forsberg and Adam Foote - who was acquired just before the trade deadline - were all members of the 1996 and 2001 Stanley Cup championship teams.
All they need is Patrick Roy.
However, slipping into Roy's role this time around is Jose Theodore, who had a 1.88 goals against average in the Minnesota series.
Just don't ask Forsberg to compare the two goalies.
"Paddy was Paddy," he said, "I'm not going to compare anyone to Paddy."
Forsberg spent nine seasons with the Avalanche before going to Philadelphia following the NHL lockout in 2004-05. He spent 1 1/2 seasons with the Flyers before being dealt to Nashville.
He's grateful to be back in Denver.
"I'm happy every day when I get up," said Forsberg, who ranks fourth on the franchise's scoring list with 755 points (217 goals, 538 assists). "It's been great."
While Forsberg earned around US$1 million for the nine regular-season games he played, the Avalanche consider it money well invested.
Sure, Forsberg missed seven games with a groin injury, but the team went 8-1 with the former Hart Trophy winner in the lineup.
Colorado also traded for Foote and Ruslan Salei around the same time, and the team took off. The Avalanche were hovering in 10th place in the Western Conference before the trio's arrival, but earned 27 out of a possible 38 points down the stretch to finish with the sixth seed.
Forsberg showed he was back on the mend, scoring a goal and four assists in the final two games of the regular season.
He then carried it over into the post-season, scoring a goal and adding four assists against Minnesota in the first round.
"Forsberg, at whatever percentage you want to call it, is still an awesome player," Foote said. "I think he's shown in that last round that he's at the top of his game."
Sakic has enjoyed being paired on the same line as Forsberg. He said the connection instantly returned when they were on the ice together.
"It was like he never left," Sakic said. "It's always great when you're so used to seeing someone, they leave, and you miss that, and then they come back. It's just like old times."