Thanks to a Game 7 win by the San Jose Sharks over the Calgary Flames, the Colorado Avalanche will meet the Detroit Red Wings for the sixth time ever in the playoffs. The Avs hold the historic series, 3-2.
There are some familiar names on both sides including Osgood, Draper, Maltby, McCarty, Holmstrom, Lidstrom, Foote, Forsberg, Sakic, and Hejduk, but don't expect any brawls.
Here are five things the Avs must do to win this series:
1. Limit Puck Possession
The Wings are all about holding onto the puck. The Avs need to force them to play dump and chase by stepping up at the blue line and by forechecking strong the entire game.
2. Stay Disciplined
The Wings had a dangerous power play in the regular season and the Avs penalty kill hasn't exactly been solid all season long. Playing 5-on-5 hockey will be important for Colorado.
3. Shoot, Shoot, Shoot
Detroit is one of the best teams in the NHL at limiting shots. In Game 6 against Nashville, Chris Osgood had to handle just 20 shots for the shutout. Remember, Colorado failed to score in three of the four games against the Wings this season.
Forget sitting back on defense. They have to go all out every shift and force the play into the Detroit zone. That's why the line of Guite-Laperriere-McLeod is so valuable. They provide energy and generally do a good job at forcing the play into the opposition's end.
5. The Gaborik Strategy
Taking out Marian Gaborik was a key in beating Minnesota. In Detroit, taking out Datsyuk and Zetteberg will be just as important.
Game 1: TONIGHT, 7:30 PM EST, VERSUS
For all you who watched Game 7 of the Flyers-Caps series, I hope you are as outraged as I am about the second goal scored by the Flyers.
Fast foward to 2:31 and you'll clearly see Patrick Thoresen check a Caps defender into Huet, taking the Caps' goalie out of the play. A goal ensues.
Why should this have been waved off?
1. It's illegal to check a player if he hasn't checked the puck. If you watch the video, you'll see the puck isn't even close to where the check takes place.
2. It's illegal to push a player into his goal and not allow the goalie to gain position to stop the puck.
3. It's illegal to slowly get up making it tougher for the goalie to get into the play.
Now, Koharski and Devorski are two of the most respected refs in the game but they really messed this one up. For the refs to affect a game like that - it's a disgrace.
Another black mark on the NHL.