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Theodore turning clock back for Colorado

by John Kreiser

Avalanche netminder Jose Theodore's stellar play
against the Minnesota Wild helped propel his
team into the second round of the Playoffs.
Jose Theodore video highlights 
Jose Theodore's revival is the major reason the Colorado Avalanche are in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Theodore's performance against the Minnesota Wild continued a revival that few people, if anyone, had expected. The former Hart Trophy winner hadn't had a regular-season goals-against average under three or a save percentage better than .900 since playing with Montreal in 2003-04 -- two years after he won the Hart Trophy as regular-season MVP.

Theodore's performance didn't perk up even after Colorado acquired him from Montreal in February 2006. He largely split time with Peter Budaj last season, and only a midseason hot streak this season finally earned him the full-time starting job.

Theodore put up solid numbers -- a 28-21-7 record, 2.44 goals-against average and .910 save percentage -- and has been even better in the playoffs. His 1.88 goals-against average and .940 save percentage were keys to the Avs' victory, and he was at his best in Games 5 and 6, allowing only three goals on 75 shots.

The Avalanche will need Theodore to be as good or better in their second-round series against Detroit.
Five up -- Five players who stepped it up in the opening round of the playoffs:

Chris Osgood -- It looks like Detroit coach Mike Babcock will give “Ozzie” the chance to be the Wings' starter in goal for a while. Osgood relieved Dominik Hasek early in the second period of Game 4 and gave up just one goal while stopping 53 of 54 shots in Detroit's six-game win over Nashville.

Jaromir Jagr -- The New York Rangers' captain had a disappointing regular season, but he was at his best in the first round against New Jersey. Jagr had two goals and eight points in five games to propel the Rangers into a second-round series against his former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Daniel Briere -- Philadelphia's biggest free-agent signing last summer has played his best at the right time. Briere led all first-round scorers with six goals and 11 points, helping the Flyers beat Washington in seven games.

Dan Ellis -- Nashville lost its series to Detroit in six games, but the only reason the series lasted that long was the play of Ellis, who faced 240 shots and stopped 225 of them.

Stephane Robidas -- With Dallas' top two defensemen out due to injuries, Robidas stepped up and led the Stars past Anaheim with a goal and five assists in six games. He scored the first of four third-period goals in Dallas' 4-1 series-clinching win.

Five down -- Five players who struggled in the opening round:
Martin Brodeur -- Did playing 77 regular-season games and not taking a night off for the last three months of the season leave Brodeur worn out for the playoffs? Maybe not, but he certainly wasn't at his best in New Jersey's five-game loss to the New York Rangers. Brodeur is skipping the World Championships, saying he's too tired -- both mentally and physically.

Marian Gaborik --
After setting team records for goals (42) and points (83) in the regular season, Gaborik was stifled by Colorado during the Minnesota Wild's six-game loss to the Avalanche. His assist on the Wild's lone goal in a 2-1 defeat in Game 6 was his only point of the series.

Milan Michalek -- San Jose's second-leading scorer during the regular season hasn't been contributing offensively during the playoffs. Michalek was held without a point in the Sharks' seven-game win over Calgary.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere --
For whatever reason, Giguere rarely seemed to have his “A” game in Anaheim's six-game series loss to Dallas. Only in Game 5, when he made 40 saves in a 4-2 victory, was Giguere at the top of his game.

Miikka Kiprusoff --
Calgary's starting goaltender had a roller-coaster ride through the Flames' seven-game loss to San Jose. Included were allowing three goals in the first 3:33 in Game 3, a shutout in Game 6 -- and being pulled after allowing four goals in less than two periods of a 5-3 loss in Game 7.

Injuries, news and notes --
Why teams need to be careful about celebrations: Nashville captain Jason Arnott missed the last two games of the Predators' series against Detroit with a concussion. He was injured when a teammate jumped on him after he scored the winning goal late in Game 3. He was also hit in the helmet by a puck in game 4.

Out --
Philadelphia suffered a major loss when forward Mike Knuble partially tore his left hamstring in Game 5. He missed the rest of the Flyers' series against Washington. … San Jose defenseman Kyle McLaren missed Games 6 and 7 against Calgary with a groin problem.

Canadiens' captain Saku Koivu returned from injury for Montreal in time for Game 6 against the Bruins.
Returning -- Montreal got a boost when captain Saku Koivu returned for Game 6 against Boston after missing nine games with a broken foot. The Canadiens also got defensemen Mark Streit (hip) and Francois Bouillon (ankle) back for Game 6.  … Pittsburgh forward Gary Roberts, who missed the last two games of the Pens' sweep of Ottawa with a groin problem, should be ready for the start of the second round. … Anaheim got forward Corey Perry back for the last three games of its series against Dallas after he missed six weeks with a severed tendon above his right knee. … Detroit hopes to get forward Kirk Maltby (hamstring) back for the second round.

Still out -- Pittsburgh defenseman Mark Eaton won't be back for the second round. He's been sidelined since late December after having surgery to repair a torn ACL. He is skating and could be ready if the Penguins get to the Eastern Conference final. … Dallas defenseman Sergei Zubov is still skating on his own and is expected to return to practice Wednesday. That's an indication the star defenseman could play during Colorado's second-round series. He's been out for more than three months with a variety of ailments, and has had foot and sports hernia surgery during that span. Stars defenseman Philippe Boucher, who missed the last three games of Dallas' first-round victory over Anaheim because of a strained hip, still isn't back on the ice. … Red Wings forward Tomas Kopecky underwent successful surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee. Kopecky was injured on April 3 and won't play during the playoffs; the Wings hope he'll be ready for training camp.

Postseason plans --
All-Star defenseman Zdeno Chara played through a shoulder injury for the last five weeks, but with the Boston Bruins eliminated, he may have corrective surgery. … Minnesota forward Branko Radivojevic will undergo reconstructive surgery on his knee this summer. He's expected to miss 4-6 months. … Buffalo forward Paul Gaustad may require surgery for a sports hernia; the injury will prevent him from playing for Team USA at the World Championships. … St. Louis defensemen Eric Brewer and Erik Johnson had shoulder surgery and should be ready for training camp.

The week ahead --
The second round of the playoffs gets under way Thursday.

Schedule breakdown:

Philadelphia vs. Montreal --
Starts Thursday night in Montreal. Consistent and convenient -- all 7 p.m. starts, no back-to-backs, extra day off between Games 4 and 5.

New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh -- Begins Friday in Pittsburgh. Games 2 and 5, both at Pittsburgh, are in the afternoon, with two days off between Games 4 and 5. But Game 6 is on a Monday night in New York one day after Game 5.

Colorado vs. Detroit -- Starts Thursday night in Detroit. Games 2 and 5, both at Detroit, are afternoon games. No back-to-backs, two-day break between Games 2 and 3. All games at Colorado start at 8 p.m., an hour later than the Avs' usual start time.

Dallas vs. San Jose -- Starts Friday night in San Jose. No afternoon games, but first two games in Dallas are Tuesday-Wednesday, meaning the teams will play three in four nights and four in six. Game 3 is at 6:30 local time in Dallas; Games 4 and 6 are at 8.

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