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Kostya Kennedy's Breakdown
Detroit    Los Angeles 
Man, can they play. Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan and Sergei Fedorov and ... Did we mention Nicklas Lidstrom led all defensemen with 73 points?  OFFENSE

The Edge:

Never a particularly potent group, they're further undermanned with sniper Ziggy Palffy nursing a sore shoulder and center Bryan Smolinski doubtful for the series. 

Two absolute studs in Lidstrom and Chris Chelios (perhaps the game's most competitive player) lead a back line that also includes still-effective veterans Larry Murphy and Steve Duchesne. Yzerman and Fedorov are killer defenders as well.  DEFENSE

The Edge:

Defenseman Rob Blake is as good as they come, but there's a serious drop-off after him. 

You can still beat Chris Osgood with the occasional long shot, but he's excellent in close. Osgood's injury last year undermined Detroit's attempt to three-peat.  IN GOAL

The Edge:

Stephane Fiset and Jamie Storr will both see time. The Wings just might swallow both of them whole. 

Yet another area where the Wings excel offensively. They converted 20.4% this season and the extra ice plays well to their speed.  PP

The Edge:

Blake and Luc Robitaille know how to exploit the open slots. Keep an eye on aggressive rookie defenseman Jere Karalahti, who scored four of his six goals this season with the man advantage. 

They kill penalties pretty well, and guys like Lidstrom and Fedorov are real threats to pick off a pass and score -- each scored four short-handed goals this season.  PK

The Edge:

They have to stay calm in the face of the Wings' potential onslaught. 

His name is Scotty Bowman.  COACH

The Edge:

Rookie Andy Murray prepares extremely well and has his players believing in his novel tactics. He'll break down the Red Wings from their hair to their skate blades. 

They'll want to make this a short series as they aim for the second round.  INTANGIBLES

The Edge:

For added motivation they'll be teeing off on Duchesne, who many players feel gave a meager effort when he was in Los Angeles last year. 

Playoff pest Pat Verbeek, a highly accomplished scorer and a gnat around the net. He tends to get overlooked next to Detroit's great stars.  X-FACTOR

The Edge:

If Palffy gets healthy, Smolinski makes an early recovery and Blake jars a key Wing with a big hit ... naah. 
Kennedy's Prediction: Detroit in 4

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