Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rivalry Set to Resume Colorado, Detroit Will Clash Again

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rivalry Set to Resume Colorado, Detroit Will Clash Again

Article excerpt

DENVER -- After a one-year hiatus, the Western Conference's fiercest playoff rivalry is ready to resume.

The Colorado Avalanche earned a second-round date with the Detroit Red Wings by eliminating the San Jose Sharks with a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 6 Monday night.

It didn't take long for the focus to shift from the Sharks to the Red Wings, who have won back-to-back Stanley Cup titles following Colorado's championship in 1995-96.

"I just wanted to relax, but I guess you're not going to let me," Avalanche goaltender Patrick Roy said when he was asked about Detroit. "We're going to have to sit down all together and talk about it and get ready for Game 1."

The Detroit-Colorado series opens Friday night in Denver, and if past encounters are any indication, it should be filled with controversy, cross-checks and contempt.

The Avalanche eliminated the Red Wings en route to the Stanley Cup in 1996 as the series hit one of its many emotional peaks. Colorado's Claude Lemieux became the centerpiece of the rivalry in Game 6 when he checked Kris Draper into the boards along the bench.

Draper needed reconstructive facial surgery, and Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman later confronted Lemieux and his family in the parking lot.

Detroit got on-ice revenge by eliminating Colorado in 1997. The playoff series followed a late-season brawl between the two teams, and they repeated the full-scale slugfest in the regular season.

The Detroit News already has a survey asking readers to name their least-favorite Avalanche player.

"I've seen their games on TV, and I'm looking forward to playing in that," said Ulf Samuelsson, who was traded to Detroit in March. "That's a great team and I think it's going to be a great series."

The Sharks nearly spoiled the anticipated clash, erasing a 2-0 deficit to tie the opening series with back-to-back victories in Denver. Colorado regrouped and avoided a repeat of last year's first-round collapse against Edmonton last year.

"We had adversity in this one," Lemieux said. "You win four straight in the first round, you face adversity against a club like Detroit, maybe you can't rebound. …

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