|Kostya Kennedy's Breakdown|
|Peter Forsberg's probable absence hurts but center Joe Sakic has been
playing out of his head for a month and Milan Hejduk will bring
the crowd to its feet with his puckhandling. Sandis Ozolinsh and Ray Bourque
give Colorado two of the premier offensive defensemen in the league.
| The key is big left winger Keith Tkachuk. A truly dominant power
forward at times, he's had a very uneven season while battling injuries (he
missed 32 games) and trade rumors.
| The addition of Bourque brings presence to a unit that also includes
Adam Foote. Otherwise the back line is only average, particularly as Ozolinsh
always thinks offense first.
| The top four -- Teppo Numminen, Jyrki Lumme, Keith Carney and Lyle Odelein -- is the strength of the club.
| Patrick Roy remains the premier big-game goalie of his time. Expect high-level play from him, as
this could be his last season as a starter in Colorado, which hopes to soon
usher in Marc Denis.
|| IN GOAL
| This is where the Coyotes will pay for allowing Nikolai Khabibulin to
miss the whole season in a contract dispute. Having Sean Burke in his stead is a
major step down.
| They've got the glitter and the grit, and Bourque has raised an
already high-level power play even higher.
| The Coyotes finished with the weakest power play (12.1%) in the West.
Things won't get any better now.
| An oddly ineffective unit. The Avalanche have the talent to kill
penalties superbly but not enough players willing to do the work.
| The superb penalty killing of star Jeremy Roenick sets the tone for an
|The players have grown to respect Bob Hartley increasingly since he
stepped in before last season. He's likely to bust up some lines or make some
other big move if the team gets into a funk.
| No-nonsense Bobby Francis has had to deal with lot of nonsense (mainly
from Tkachuk) in the Coyotes' dressing room and he's handled it well.
| Just having Ray Bourque in the room adds greater urgency to the
mission. Bourque has never won a Cup in 21 seasons and he'll be giving
everything to get one.
| This is a streaky club that hasn't won a playoff round since moving to
Phoenix. The Coyotes are determined to finally get on a good streak when it
| Hejduk and fellow second-year man Chris Drury. If they can replicate
last year's playoff effort, the Avalanche could move quickly though this round.
| Tkachuk, Tkachuk, Tkachuk: If he's the best player in a game or two, he
could carry the Coyotes.
|Kennedy's Prediction: Colorado in 6|