Don't Be So Humble: Goalie Patrick Roy says the Avalanche has a good chance to repeat as Stanley Cup champion this season, but he refuses to talk dynasty. We will. Colorado has a superior blend of veterans and youth, dazzling offensive players and muckers, two fabulous lines centered by Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg, and the best playoff goalie of his generation. The Avalanche will repeat.
Top of the Line: Many of the NHL's finest suit up in Colorado. Best wrist shot in the league: Sakic. Best combination of scoring, toughness and defense: Forsberg. Best agitator: Claude Lemieux. Best young offensive defenseman: Sandis Ozolinsh. Best complementary forwards: Adam Dead-marsh, Scott Young, Mike Ricci.
The Long Marsh: When the Stanley Cup was on display last month at a charity golf tournament in Denver, Deadmarsh was shocked to discover his name had been engraved DEADMARCH. Hey, typos are part of the business. In this space last season somebody typed Philadelphia Flyers as the projected Stanley Cup champions when he obviously meant Colorado Avalanche.
Detroit Red Wing's
The Motor Pity: As the Red Wings found out last season, 62 regular-season wins will get you a record but not a Stanley Cup. Detroit, which has wasted over-the-top talent the past four years, will be remembered as a stupendous underachiever.
Money Balks: After spending $28.5 million on salaries last year, Red Wings owner Mike Hitch has set a payroll limit of $30 million in his pursuit of the Stanley Cup. Grinding winger Dino Ciccarelli ($1.2 million a season) was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a salary dump, a big loss for a team that was already lacking gutsy personnel.
New Blood: Rookie Anders Eriksson, a 6'3", 218-pound Swede, is a mobile defenseman who should energize a unit that was worn down by Colorado in the conference finals.