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Series at a Glance
Avs-Wings series will be highlight in season of lowlights
Posted: Thursday April 27, 2000 01:08 AM
By David Vecsey, CNNSI.com
This is what hockey needed. Heck, it's what we all needed. After a season of debacles and fiascoes, "Detroit-Colorado" is like a holistic healing phrase, chicken soup for the game's soul.
The most heated rivalry in sports a few years ago, things had seemingly tempered out between these teams last year. And, sure, Claude Lemieux is gone. But the stage is most definitely set for things to intensify again, especially after last year's fierce (though civil) second-round series, in which Colorado ran Detroit out in four straight after losing the first two games.
That stung the Wings, who would have preferred to lose to any other team if they were going to relinquish their two-year reign on the Stanley Cup. In essence, each team ended the other's reign as champ. Those kind of things aren't forgotten quickly, not with all the principals still around. Not with Scotty Bowman still seeking a record ninth coaching championship because then-rookie coach Bob Hartley out-motivated him a year ago.
What adds fuel to the fire, too, is the way each team keeps bringing players hungry enough to eat steel. For Detroit, guys like Chris Chelios and Steve Duchesne come from losing teams willing to give a pound of flesh for a championship; and Pat Verbeek has plenty of fire in his belly after being discarded by Dallas. For Colorado, in come Ray Bourque and Dave Andreychuk, the poster boys for championship lust with 3,107 career games (regular and postseason) and 20 ringless fingers between them.
Both teams are in the zone, too. The Wings steamrolled past L.A. in four games, while the Avs have won 18 of their last 22 games, including four of five against Phoenix in the first round, since Bourque and Andreychuk arrived.
May the Forsberg be with you
You couldn't tell there was anything wrong with Peter Forsberg judging by his four points in four games against Phoenix in the first round. In Game 5, he practically skated in circles playing keepaway in one of the most dominant individual performances of these young playoffs. But those achy joints and muscles will surely get a tougher test from Chelios, McCarty and Co. Colorado didn't necessarily need Forsberg against Phoenix, but they most certainly need him in the lineup against Detroit.
Coaching clinic is in session |
For the second straight series, old master Scotty Bowman goes up against one of the young prodigies of the league. Bowman certainly taught L.A.'s Andy Murray a thing or two in the first-round whitewash, but Hartley isn't that impressionable. For one thing, Hartley rallied his team from down 0-2 last year to beat Bowman's Wings in the next four. And as SI's Michael Farber pointed out in the first round against Phoenix, Hartley utilizes his team's strengths and weaknesses like a seasoned vet.
After quietly scoring 27 goals - but only 62 points - this season, Sergei Fedorov had a very strong series against L.A., leading Detroit with five points (3 goals, 2 assists) in a four-game series that saw nine Wings score goals and 13 register at least one point.
Since winning the '96 Cup in his first year with Colorado, Patrick Roy has since been bested by Mike Vernon, Curtis Joseph and Ed Belfour in the playoffs. And while he will become the winningest regular-season goalie in NHL history next season, Roy is probably more interested in defending his title as winningest postseason goalie while he still can.
| Fate || || A St. Louis, Dallas, Colorado, Detroit final four in the West would have been something, but San Jose's upset of the Blues gives us this gem of a matchup instead|
| Chris Osgood || || He's always dissed by critics, but he's always around to be dissed in the playoffs, isn't he?|
| Ozolinsh-Foote || || Colorado's top pairing was just that in the first round ... on both ends of the ice. Ozolinsh led the Avs with seven points, while Foote chipped in with four assists.|
You will watch every minute of this series with rapt awe.
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