Western Conference Second Round Reunites Familiar Foes

Chris OstranderCorrespondent IApril 23, 2008

Western Conference

#1 Detroit Red Wings vs. #6 Colorado Avalanche

Once again the Red Wings and Avalanche will meet in the postseason. While familiar faces from the rivalry of the late 90s are few and far between, the Avalanche have restocked former Cup winners in hopes of building a winner. 

Detroit went 4-0 against Colorado this season, however, Jose Theodore had yet to regain the Hart Trophy form he has found through six games in the playoffs. Also Peter Forsberg looks rejuvenated in the Mile-High City. Also, the additions of Adam Foote and Ruslan Salei have shored up a blue line corps that had some holes.

The Red Wings have received scoring from all the same players as they struggled at times against Nashville. Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk will need to carry the torch for Detroit if they hope to get by the Avs. Look for Mike Babcock to split the two superstars up so the Avalanche cannot match them with Foote, like they did to Marian Gaborik in the first round.

The Wings did not get stellar goal tending from Dominik Hasek in the first round and Chris Osgood played well for facing a bakers dozen of pucks in his time between the pipes. Whoever is in net, likely Osgood, will need to be sharp as the Avalanche have a much deeper scoring roster than the Predators did.

A strong defensive effort from the Avalanche may get the job done as Theodore now looks like a steal as the Canadiens have long since parted with David Aebischier.

Colorado in six

#2 San Jose Sharks vs. #5 Dallas Stars

The Sharks struggled to a seven-game triumph over the Flames. If it wasn't for Jeremy Roenick this series may be featuring the Stars and Avalanche. Unfortunately for the Sharks they will be facing another hot goaltender. Marty Turco looks nothing like the former Dallas net minder who fell apart in the playoffs. 

The Stars powerplay has been deadly and they are receiving scoring from forwards and defensemen (see Stephane Robidas). Coupled with the strong play of Turco the Stars are a dangerous team. However, they are not necessarily deep.  After players like Mike Modano, Brad Richards, Mike Riberio Brendan Morrow and Jere Lehtinen the Stars do not have much to offer. Stu Barnes still ranks among the best face-off men in the league and brings a great strength to the checking line, but the Stars may not be able to skate with every Sharks line. 

San Jose appeared to forget how to score against the Flames as Miikka Kiprusoff almost carried his team to the second round. Joe Thornton scored some pivotal goals for the Sharks but an unlikely hero, Ryane Clowe led his team in scoring. 

In order for everybody's favorite Stanley Cup contender to make it to the second round they will need to find the scoring touch once again. However, against another hot goaltender with a team who can score in front of him it may not happen.

Dallas in six