Kris Draper, Darren McCarty, Tomas Holmstrom, Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk provide grit, strength, and unrivalled skill for the President’s Trophy winning Detroit Red Wings. Detroit will need a little bit of all these things to get past a dangerous Colorado Avalanche club loaded with goal scoring talent like Joe Sakic, Milan Hejduk and Peter Forsberg, as well as a solid defensive core that includes veteran Adam Foote. This series should be a dandy.
If this feels like an episode of deja vu, it’s because that exact same paragraph, or something close to it, was likely written prior to the 2002 Western Conference Final between these two clubs. And, despite some noted differences between then and now (namely, the absence of Stevie Y and Pat “If you love your father, fight!” Roy) this series by and large sets up the same way as the 2002 series. Like years past, the Avs are an offensive-minded, risk-taking machine (for evidence of this see some of the Wild players’ comments before the first round series about how they expected to take advantage of the Avs‘ defensemen jumping up in the play), while the Wings are a supremely-well balanced club that, once again, faced unexpected hurdles in the first round, this time in the name of the Nashville Predators.
While the retro Wings sport the same goaltending tandem of Hasek/Osgood (or, seemingly, more like Osgood/Hasek) as years past, the Avs have a different face between the pipes in Jose “Can You Thee”-adore, who is magically once again playing at the level he was at during his rookie season with the Habs. Theodore single-handedly prevented the Wild from running over the Avs during many a third period, and was arguably the hottest goaltender in the first round of the playoffs.
We all know how the saying goes: Goaltending wins championships……
But they don’t say “Goaltending wins second round Western Conference matchups against a far better opponent.”
Prediction: Wings in 5
For Illegal Curve, I’m Steve Werier.