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Wings face Avalanche in continued pursuit of post season

February 22, 2024, 1:22 AM ET [15 Comments]
Jeremy Laura
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For any of you who were around for hockey in the 90s, Colorado was such a special matchup. Those teams colliding caused fans to nearly lose their minds for the duration of the matchup. There are still stories that circulate about the impact those contests had on the players themselves. Brendan Shanahan talked about sitting with Patrick Roy on a flight. Shanny had (quite physically) kept Roy from entering into the infamous McCarty/Lemieux fight. The collision, Roy recounted, was still giving him issues. Shanny, at the time, thought, “good”. It was that brutal.

These days, us old timers would pay for a ticket to sit in the press box with those players who now manage and scout for the league. Roy is coaching again, and Lemieux will be negotiating Seider’s next contract. (For what it’s worth, things were still awkward between Claude and Draper in fairly recent times). For many of us, the animosity faded into respect in terms akin to the handshake line at the end of the cup final. Great games take great opponents and there was some fantastic hockey being played.

For tomorrow’s tilt, in terms of stats, Detroit and Colorado are very close. Both are at 23% on the power play, both at 82% on the penalty kill. Faceoffs favor Detroit 49% to 48%. Goals for favor Colorado at 3.68 vs. 3.49. Goals against favor the Avs at 3.18 vs Detroit’s 3.25. Those numbers are much closer than I would have expected at the season’s start. So, here are a couple of brief thoughts.

Colorado is a physically stronger team (and recent cup winner). Detroit’s 3rd and 4th lines have been a boost for the team (along with the power play lately) and matchups are going to be key. No, this isn’t the rivalry of years gone by. However, I truly would love to see a cup final of Detroit vs. Colorado. Those post season games felt wasted on conference rivals. I even remember my wife talking about wanting to see those two teams face off for the cup.

So, what can we expect? Sprong seems to keep going. Veleno looks strong and is willing to send the puck into the corner and duke it out. Kane has been a tremendous add and a walking “how to” guide. One play doesn’t work, ok, get the puck back and do something else. The team may need more shots from the blue line in this one looking for tips or rebounds.

Either way, there has been a lot to be grateful for this year, and even walking out of this one with an OT point would be a good “get” for the Wings. Let me know your thoughts and who you expect to rise above the fray for Detroit in this one and what they need to focus on. Yes, the rebuild is still in process but with a much different look this year.
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