The Avalanche team that we'll see in round 2 is far stronger than their regular season showing. Joe Sakic spent most of the year on IR, Forsberg was signed in February, and Adam Foote was acquired at the deadline. With all that Stanley Cup experience (in Colorado nonetheless) it's safe to say that their springtime presence is invaluable. That being said, we should still look at what happened between these teams in 07-08.
Detroit thoroughly manhandled Colorado in 07-08, going 4-0 with three shutouts; Colorado managed 2 goals in their 4-2 loss back on December 27, but that was it. Both Detroit and Colorado had stellar home records; Detroit went 29-9-3 and the Avs went 27-12-2. On the road, the Red Wings were far better. Their 25-12-4 road record trumps the Avalanche's, who finished the season at 17-19-5.
Let's face it, Detroit has it all. They're a team that can beat you in a track meet or a defensive battle. The Wings' transition game improved big-time when they acquired Brian Rafalski via free agency. Rafalski also stepped into Mathieu Schneider's former role as the power-play point man alongside Lidstrom and has performed admirably with 31 of his 55 regular season points coming with the man-advantage.
Not to be overlooked is the Wings' awesome ability to keep the puck out of their net. With the least amount of goals in the NHL during the regular season, we saw a team that relentlessly backchecked and protected the shooting lanes. Their goaltending has been dominant as well; if Hasek and Osgood hadn't split their games, there's no doubt that the dominant starter would have been a Vezina finalist.
The Avalanche have their work cut out for them, but they are by no means to be written off. As previously mentioned, the return of Sakic, Forsberg, and Foote has provided Colorado an upgrade in skill and playoff experience. With 6 power play goals in 29 chances against Minnesota (the 4th best PK during the regular season), they've shown their ability to run an effective man-advantage. John-Michael Liles has emerged as a bona fide power play quarterback, and Ruslan Salei has provided the important combination of poise and playoff experience.
The Young Guns - Paul Stastny and Wojtek Wolski have really benefited from the additions of Sakic, Forsberg, and Ryan Smyth. Can they bring their game to another level?
Jose Theodore - We saw how well this guy could play under pressure throughout the playoff push and round 1. He can steal a game or two on his own.
Prediction - Wings in 7. The Rivalry is back and Colorado will show that they won't be pushed around by a better, more complete team. They're dynamite at home and will win each of their three games in the Pepsi center. This is a different team than Detroit saw during the regular season, but the Wings will still have enough to pull through.