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Western Conference Round 2 series previews and picks

Western Conference Round 2 series previews and picks

Western Conference Round 2 series previews and picks

Colorado Avalanche vs. Detroit Red Wings

Season series: Detroit 4-0, O/U 1-3

Do not check your calendar. This series is happening right now and with any luck, we’ll be treated to the kind of ferocious series we used to see when these teams collided in the late 90s.

The Avs lead the all-time playoff series 3-2 with the Wings but those were in series that were closer to a coin toss. This time around, the Red Wings enter as the heavy favorites after finishing 20 points ahead of Colorado in the regular season standings.

Detroit scored more goals per game than the Avs this season, allowed fewer, had a better power play and a better penalty killing unit, and the Wings won all four meetings. The Avs scored only two goals in four meetings against Detroit this season and were shut out in all three meetings in 2008.

However, Colorado’s late-season moves seem to be paying off and that could turn things around. Peter Forsberg is looking more in form with each game and he collected five points in Round 1 against Minnesota. Adam Foote is turning back the clock on defense at 36 and Jose Theodore has been fantastic in nets since taking over the No. 1 job from Peter Budaj.

Theodore will need another huge series against the Wings. Detroit got scoring from everywhere in Round 1 against Nashville when nine players picked up at least three points each and only two players who skated in all six games were held pointless (Chris Chelios and Brad Stuart).

The Wings also made a great move by giving the crease back to Chris Osgood in Game 5 and he allowed just one goal in two wins in Games 5 and 6.

Pick: Red Wings five games

Dallas Stars vs. San Jose Sharks

Season series: 4-4 (San Jose had one OT win and one shootout win) 

If the Stars manage to make it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals, they must just get there by the toughest route ever.

After knocking off defending champion Anaheim, Dallas now faces the Cup choice of many this year, San Jose. Should the Stars when this one, they could face President’s Cup winning Detroit in the Western finals.

But I guess that's getting ahead of things. This series should be a nasty one between two teams that match up closely. Both teams have great goaltending, lots of depth up front and a lack of depth on defense. They also both have power plays clicking at over 20 percent through first round.

Goaltending could be the difference in this series and after Round 1, I’d give the nod to Marty Turco. He frustrated the Ducks with huge saves throughout the series and he allowed just four goals in the four wins over Anaheim.

Evgeni Nabokov wasn’t quite as sharp against the Flames in San Jose’s first series, but it wasn’t entirely his fault. The Sharks had a number of lapses in energy and execution throughout the series, most notably in Game 6 when the Flames beat them 2-0. The Sharks didn’t get much of a sniff in that one and seemed to be waiting for Game 7 at home.

They won’t be able to do that against Dallas. The Stars have three lines clicking and the acquisition of Brad Richards at the trade deadline is paying dividends. Richards’ line racked up five goals and nine assists in the first series and Anaheim had to change its game plan to try to stop it.

Dallas also had seven players with at least two goals in Round 1 and a different combination of seven players with at least five points. San Jose, meanwhile, had five players with at least five points in Round 1 and five with at least two goals. Ryane Clowe and Joe Pavelski are the unexpected points leaders for the Sharks with seven apiece.

Pick: Stars six games

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