|Kostya Kennedy's Breakdown|
|The development of rookie Alex Tanguay adds to an impressive group
that includes sophomores Chris Drury and the dynamic Milan Hejduk, as well as
the league's best 1-2 punch at center -- Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg -- and the
league's most talented offensive defenseman, Sandis Ozolinsh. There are so many
big-time scorers on this team it's hard to know who to stop.
| The Wings have elite puck-potters in Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan
and Sergei Fedorov, and their depth is even more impressive. Watch for players
like nettlesome Pat Verbeek, speedy Kris Draper and bullish Tomas Holmstrom to
| Raymond Bourque has brought some stability to the blueliners.
Expect he and Adam Foote to get a lot of minutes. Past Bourque and Foote,
defense is not a strength.
| A well-rested and veteran group. Nicklas Lidstrom and Larry Murphy may
be the best pair in the league and like Lidstrom, Chris Chelios is a Norris
Trophy candidate. The Wings' defense really clamps down late. |
| Expect Patrick Roy to make some spectacular third-period saves and
to fire up the Avalanche with his play. This is his time to thrive -- in a big
series against a dangerous opponent -- and he will be as unflappable as always.
|| IN GOAL
| Osgood was good for much of the first round against the Kings. He's
underrated because he's susceptible to the soft goal, but when he's on, which he
usually is, he's tough to beat. |
| Ozolinsh can be very intimidating with room to skate and the
Avalanche's many dynamic players get a boost from veteran center Dave Andreychuk
who is still a force at the goal-mouth.
| This is where Yzerman's diverse talents shine as he plays the point
superbly on the first power play unit. Coach Scotty Bowman likes to use a lot of
different looks on the power play and he has many effective players to work
| Bourque and Foote will play integral roles and Sakic can be a superb
penalty killer as well. Expect the Avalanche to mix combinations to meet the
Wings' many set-ups.
| With Lidstrom and Murphy going out first and the tenacious Chelios
leading the second unit, Detroit can be impenetrable. That's what they were in
the first round as the Kings went 0-for-23 with the man advantage. |
| Bob Hartley has done an excellent job of merging the Avalanche's
never-ending influx of young talent with his veteran, star-studded group. After
a tricky start last year, he has won his players over.
| Bowman was in fine, irascible form in the first round, carping to
team and league officials whenever anything went awry with the daily schedule.
The meticulous taskmaster remains the best in the biz. |
| The presence of the incomparable Bourque, who is looking for his
first Stanley Cup has energized the locker room. Everyone from the veterans to
the rookies hold him in special awe.
| Is this Bowman's last stand? It may be. He's 66 and has battled health
problems in recent years. But the guy can't win enough Stanley Cups. He wants
| Forsberg is back from a late-season injury and he had a big goal in
Game 5 against the Coyotes. If he's Peter the Great, the Avalanche will be too.
| Last season Detroit fell apart after Osgood got hurt. This year a
healthy Ozzie could well turn the series the other way.
|Kennedy's Prediction: Detroit in 6|