It seems like only yesterday when Darren McCarty had Claude Lemieux down on the ice, covering his head with blow after blow.
Mike Vernon and Patrick Roy squared up at center ice. Gloves and sticks flew everywhere, and every seat was filled with crazed, screaming fans.
A lot has changed in the NHL and this rivalry since March 26, 1997. Only seven Red Wings and two Colorado Avalanche players remain from that game. Anyone will tell you that the fierce hatred has long since evaporated from this rivalry, but I beg to differ.
The Red Wings won the season series 4-0 with three of those games coming in shutout fashion. The Wings are poised for a second-round sweep but as we all know, it's the playoffs and anything can happen.
This is the new NHL but the spirit that still drives players to win the Stanley Cup, the passion that drives teams in the playoffs hasn't changed. I believe that by the end of this series we will see blood, we will see more fights than any other playoff series this year and we will see a rivalry renewed.
We won't see Chris Osgood and Jose Theodore at center ice, but we will see an amazing goaltending duo that is going to be the story of this series. Both are coming off an extraordinary series.
Jose Theodore played all six games in his series and finished with a strong 1.88 GAA, while Chris Osgood had to come in and save Dominic Hasek from another first round upset. But Osgood was strong, and will continue the Detroit Red Wings run for the cup in round two.
With Joe Sakic leading his team in points after round one you have to believe his leadership is as strong as ever. The Detroit Red Wings don't have the veteran leadership of Steve Yzerman anymore but Nicklas Lidstrom is a veteran and has proven his ability to lead this team.
The difference is a much younger and less experienced crew lead the wings thus far in the playoffs. With Pavel Datsyuk, Jiri Hudler, Niklas Kronwall and Hendrik Zetterberg the top point leaders.
All of Hockeytown is excited and foaming at the mouth for this rivalry to begin again. The game needs this and Hockeytown needs this to be a nasty, ugly barn burner. I'm predicting a 4-1 series going to the Detroit Red Wings.
There is only one question to answer. Will this be a rivalry renewed?
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