A rivalry that has revolved around a lot of blood, sweat, and few tears will once again be on display this weekend. The Detroit Red Wings and the Colorado Avalanche will hook up for the final time of the season on Saturday. The Avs currently have the season series lead by a one game margin, but the Wings will be looking to even things up Saturday afternoon at the Joe.
Detroit is coming into the game with only one regulation loss since losing two in a row 15-games ago. Both of those losses came at the hands of Colorado. The Red Wings have picked up 27 out of a possible 30 points during their current stretch, and now have a 5 point advantage over the St. Louis Blues in the Central Division. Detroit is returning home after a 3 game western road swing that saw the Red Wings lose to Anaheim and then go on to pick up wins in both Los Angeles and Phoenix. Newly acquired defenseman Mathieu Schneider donned the red and white for the first time since being traded from L.A. in the win over the Coyotes, and immediately helped to take some of the load off of Chris Chelios and Nicklas Lidstrom by logging over twenty-three minutes of ice-time.
Meanwhile, a resurgent Avalanche team now sits only 4 points behind Vancouver for the northwest division lead, and is in 4th place overall in the Western Conference. Much of their recent success can be attributed to the recent play of goaltender Patrick Roy, who after a slumping start to the season has gotten back to his expected level of performance. Colorado’s most recent game saw them beat up on the Blue Jackets 5-1. Joe Sakic netted a natural hat trick in the blowout, scoring all three of his goals in the first period.
-Player To Watch-
Colorado- #20 Bryan Marchment (D) (2 goals, 9 assists). Will the Avs’ new goon look to make his presence felt in this ongoing rivalry? You can bet on it. Called the dirtiest player in the league by many, Marchment will likely not miss his chance to take the hatred felt by both clubs to a whole new level.
Detroit- #23 Mathieu Schneider(D) (14 goals, 30 assists). The Wings’ newest d-man has no time to settle into his new home. It will be interesting to see how Schneider responds to the intensity that is always present when these two teams meet.
-Out or in Doubt-
Colorado- No major injuries to report.
Detroit- D Jiri Fischer. Even with the addition of Schneider, the Wings are still relying on the return of Fischer for the playoffs. Fischer’s presence is certainly missed in games such as these.
-Between da Pipes-
Colorado- #33 Patrick Roy (28-13-12, 2.23 GAA, .918 SV%, 3 SO)
Detroit- #31 Curtis Joseph (28-17-6, 2.59 GAA, .909 SV%, 3 SO)
-Most Points This Season vs. Opposition-
Colorado- 3 tied with 3 points. #21 Peter Forsberg (1 goal, 2 assists), #23 Milan Hejduk (3 goals), #40 Alex Tanguay (1 goal, 2 assists) vs. Detroit
Detroit- #14 Brendan Shanahan with 3 points (3 goals) vs. Colorado
The Game will be televised nationally at 3:00 p.m. eastern time on ABC.