Saturday, February 14, 2004

GameDay: vs. Colorado (31-11-10-4 , 76) 3:00 EST

This afternoon is the much-awaited rematch versus the Colorado Avalanche after the February 5th Overtime win by the Wings, in which we won 3-2 after falling behind 2-0 early. The game featured a wide open, uncalled third period that culminated in two late Colorado high sticks, one by Foote on Yzerman, the other by Konowalchuk on Draper, that led to a critical 5-on-3 in Overtime for 4 minutes. As boos rained down in the Pepsi Center, Brett Hull blasted in a goal, and the boos were joined with beer bottles and garbage littering the ice. This all sets the stage for the second of four games against the Avs this season, this being the first at the Joe for the Wings. The Avs are coming off a 4-0 shellacking of the underachieving St Louis Blues Thursday. Current conference standings have the Avs leading with 76 points (with the Canucks 4 points behind in the Northwest, followed by the Wings with 74 (with the Blues 12 points behind in the Central). So, although the Wings have very little pressure behind their back in the Central, it's time to start eyeing an all-important home ice advantage against the Avs. This pretty much means number one in the West. Looking to the East, the ailing Flyers have 76 points, and the Leafs are trailing with 74. The East is sticking right with the West this season, so being number one in the West doesn't guarantee the President's Trophy like it has in previous seasons. Manny Legace will get the start this afternoon, with Marc Lamothe called up from Grand Rapids and ready for his first NHL start. And with Cujo out till next week, possibly returning Wednesday versus the Coyotes or Friday versus the Blues, Lamonthe could very well get a nod or at least play a closing period. Winger Steve Thomas, who has been out with a rib injury, has been cleared to return and is expected to lace 'em up today. D. Mac skipped Thursday's practice to be with his wife for the birth of their fourth child, Gracyn Rose. He's ready to go as well. This will be an emotional game for the Wings. Clearly because of the way the last game ended, but also because it's in the Joe, and the Avs do have the best road record in the NHL at 15-3-7-3. The Avs are going to be ready after losing their 2-0 lead last game and watching their fans' emotional spectacle at the end. The Wings need to support Manny, and make sure that they aren't too aggressive and take silly penalties. You can't wear you're heart on your sleeve for a game like this. You have to remember that there are certain times for a brawl and crushing checks, and other times for control and patience. Hopefully Lewis has gotten this through to the guys. On this Valentines Day, maybe we'll see a bit of red out there, hopefully on the Avs jerseys, especially the one with the "52" on back (read Foote).


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