There's no way that I could have waited until later in the day to post this thread. Sure, the game doesn't start until 5:30 PM Mountain time (better hurry home from work), but I figured we could all come up with stuff to talk about.
First of all, it's good to see everyone getting worked up. That's what the playoffs are for. I'd link you to Bill's foaming rant at A2Y about the series we're all about to enjoy, but I don't really think it's worth reading. Nothing against him, of course, but the quality of his writing tends to decrease as his heart rate increases, so I'll just leave him alone and hope he takes his medication.
Obviously, the ire between the fans of the Wings and Avs will be pretty high. You'd expect nothing less. But what about the teams themselves? Are they expecting a renewal of the Blood Feud days? Not really.
Adam Foote is all business, because that's how he rolls:
"I think we're a little different from everyone, where we're not even thinking about it," Foote said. "We know it's just a team we have to get through to get to where we want to go. As you get older, you don't get as much caught up in the hype, I think."
I'm not going to post pictures from the old rivalry because those days are done. The Red Wings aren't special. They're just another team in the way on the road to the Cup.
What would a conquest here mean to the Red Wings? They would beat a team that has had a terrible powerplay that they have dominated over the last 4 seasons. A team that, recently, has had mild success but is no where near the elite level of their team. In other words not much. It should be just another playoff series win. Yet they realize the stakes for a loss. A loss to the Avs would be so much worse for the Wings. It would be the unequivocal end of their glory years. 3 president's trophies in 4 seasons (and tied for a 4th) and 0 Stanley Cups to show for it. As if that weren't enough the slaying of their team would be at the hands of their traditional arch-nemesis. Everything is on the line for them, and yet their rival feels free.
That's the kind of attitude the Avs need to take going into tonight's first game. It's been a long time since the two teams have faced each other in the playoffs, and no doubt the few remaining Detroit residents still brave enough to venture into the decimated heart of the city will be thirsty for blood. Detroit fans are tough. They have to be. If you lived in an urban wasteland you'd be a hardass, too.
If they can fill the seats (and they will), the Joe Louis crowd will be a tough customer in game 1. The Avs kept their composure in the Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota and won two games there, but the hostile atmosphere in the Joe will be even tougher to ignore. If they can stay zen like they did against the Wild, they'll be okay.
Speaking of zen, the key to beating the Wings is to get cool-as-ice Nicklas Lidstrom off of his game. Back in February, after Lappy broke Lidstrom's vagina with a solid body check, the Wings dropped the next four straight games. The Avs have to hit the eminent Norris Trophy winner hard and hit him often. Not dirty, not cheap, but hard. He's not used to being hit and he doesn't handle it well---and neither does his team or their fan base. Guite, Lappy and Finger (if he plays at all) should make it their sole purpose in this series to body check the crap out of Lidstrom. Again, not dirty, and with no intent to injure, of course.
Another key will be the defense shutting down Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, who are both incredibly dangerous on offense and equally dangerous on defense. The fact that both of the Wings' scoring aces are brilliant two-way players is scary. But they're not invincible, and if the Avs' D plays like they did against Marian Gaborik, they could be closed out.
The top two Avalanche lines (whoever they may be---you never know) will be hounded all series. The third line, if Ryan Smyth stays on it, will have to come through. David Jones may have a ton of gold records and a sweet haircut, but he'll need to break through and score a couple of goals. I think he's due.
Finally, please remember that the Avalanche goalie, from this point forward, has no name. You should not mention his name, his number, his nickname, or even the position of goaltender in the game thread tonight. THE AVALANCHE GOALIE DOES NOT EXIST. The first person that mentions him in a game thread will be banned from commenting for the rest of the playoffs---I'm not kidding*.
Chris Osgood, on the other hand, is a future Hall of Famer and probably the best goalie in the league right now. Chris Osgood is a champion. Chris Osgood.
This series is all business. Don't get distracted by the hype or the history---the Red Wings are just another opponent in the Avs' way.
The game starts at 5:30 PM Mountain time, 7:30 PM Eastern and will be shown on Versus. Be at Joe Louis Arena or be here.
NEW ADDENDUM: The Avalanche Wikipedia page has taken a beating from Wangs fans. Check out the revision history page, specifically the mentions of corrected vandalism. Word has it that someone changed the team name to "Colorado Douche Canoes." Though not exactly similar to the team name ("Assalanche" would have been better), it's still pretty funny.
ADDENDUM TWO: Terry Frei is all class, and echoes what we've said about the rivalry being dead and gone.
*I told you, hockeychic, that I wasn't kidding. You are hereby banned until the Avs are eliminated from the playoffs or win the Cup for purposely trying to jinx the team.