Detroit Red Wings vs Colorado Avalanche: Most Memorable Moments from the Rivalry
Five out of the seven times that the Red Wings and Avalanche met in the playoffs saw the winner of the series go on to win the Stanley Cup.
The Avalanche picked up Stanley Cups in 1996 and 2001, while the Red Wings won in 1997, repeated in 1998 and won again in 2002.
This rivalry wasn't born in the playoffs like a lot of hockey "rivalries" are these days. Instead, it was forged in the regular season and battle-hardened in the playoffs.
Here are some of the rivalry's greatest memories.
1. The Kris Draper-Claude Lemieux Incident
All long-standing old-time rivalries in hockey were built on fights of some sort. Fights can come about in a number of ways.
The first and foremost being in retaliation to an act committed by a member of the opposing team.
See example above.
The 1996 Western Conference finals saw the Detroit Red Wings take on the Colorado Avalanche.
Claude Lemieux checked Kris Draper from behind into the boards, effectively ending Draper's playoff season. The Red Wings would mark that incident down as something for the next time the two teams met.
The fact that the Avalanche would go on to win the Stanley Cup in 1996 meant that the Red Wings were out to seek some revenge.
But when would that revenge come?
2. The Brawl
"Fight Night at the Joe." "The Brawl." Whatever you want to call it, it happened on March 26th, 1997.
That night, Darren McCarty sought out revenge for Draper for an incident that was almost a year old.
That fight wasn't the only one that erupted, but it was the one that needed to happen.
Vengeance had been taken, and the rivalry was on.
In the playoffs that year, Detroit beat Colorado in six games in the Western Conference finals and would go on to win their first of back-to-back Stanley Cups.
3. Game 6, 2002 (Western Conference Finals)
The Avalanche ultimately had a chance to assert themselves as the better team in this rivalry by winning Game 5 of the 2002 Western Conference finals.
If the Avs won Game 6, they would have moved on to the Stanley Cup Final to face Carolina, which would have given then almost a guaranteed Stanley Cup (because, come on, it is Carolina, after all).
The Red Wings won Game 6 by a 2-0 score, however, capped off by the ''Statue of Libery'' goal. As a result, the Red Wings moved back to Hockeytown for Game 7.
4. Game 7, 2002 (Western Conference Finals): The End of the Rivalry
When a rivalry ends, it is usually because one team becomes bad over time, so the games do not mean as much.
In the case of the Red Wings-Avalanche rivalry, the Red Wings opened up a can of sorts as they throttled the Avs by a 7-0 score.
And just like that, the rivalry was over.
Not a slow painful decline—just one game of pure domination by the Red Wings.