In the last post, we covered round 1 of the Champions from the past decade. Here were the results:
2001 Colorado Avalanche defeated the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins
2002 Detroit Redwings defeated the 2008 Detroit Redwings
2007 Anaheim Ducks defeated the 2003 NJ Devils
2006 Carolina Hurricanes defeated the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning
2001 Colorado Avalanche -vs- 2007 Anaheim Ducks
No doubt, this series would have gotten ugly from the puck drop. The Ducks were built tough and the Avalanche weren't the type to back down. Recall the many blood baths between Colorado and Detroit at the turn of the century. With a high level of physical play, special teams were bound to play a major role in the outcome of this series. The 2001 Avalanche was a force on the power play. With Ray Bourque and Rob Blake manning the points, there were plenty of opportunities for the Colorado forwards to pound rebound and deflections past Giguere. Even with the Ducks' storied shutdown line of Pahlsson, Moen, and Niedermeyer, the Colorado offense would have scored goals in bunches.
On the other side, the top 2 lines in Anaheim were close to unstoppable in 2007. Selanne and Kunitz lit it up on line 1, while the young tandem of Getzlaf and Perry, joined by Penner, were coming into their own that spring. However, Adam Foote and company would have had just enough to minimize their impact. And whatever did get through would have been swallowed up by Roy.
Avalanche in 6
2002 Detroit Redwings -vs- 2006 Carolina Hurricanes
Consider this the grudge match from the 2002 series, where a very different Hurricanes team put up a good fight, but fell short by 1 goal in several games. The 02' Hurricanes were lead by Francis, but were missing many of the key players in the 06 version. So, it's tough to draw any conclusions based off that series. Nonetheless, the results may very well have been the same. The truth is that as solid as the 2006 Canes were, they didn't face a team that spring that compared to the 2002 Wings. Although the Oilers took them to 7 games, the toughest challenge that spring came from the Sabres. Buffalo demonstrated in that series that a quick, puck moving defense could neutralize the speedy forecheck that the Canes relied on. The 2002 Redwings were built like those Sabres on the backend, and would have had similar success in shutting down the Hurricane offense.
On the other side, the array of offensive weapons that the Wings brought to the table that spring would have picked apart the mediocre Canes defense. The only thing that might have changed the landscape would have been the Conn Smythe play of Cam Ward. Even so, it wouldn't have been enough to win 4 games against this Detroit squad.
Detroit in 7
2001 Colorado Avalanche -vs- 2002 Detroit Redwings
Based on Rounds 1 & 2, it's evident that the glory days of the past decade were in the first couple of seasons. That era was dominated by the Avalanche and Redwings, with the Stars occasionally interrupting the story. So, it's no surprise that these two teams have found themselves pitted head to head for the title of Team of the Decade.
To be fair, if this series were played 10 times, it could wind up 5-5. When these teams met during that time period, it was always a toss up as to who would win, so we're really splitting hairs in trying to pick a winner. In fact, the 02 Avalanche took Detroit to a game 7 before collapsing in the Western Conference Finals.
Colorado's top lines:
Sakic - Drury - Hinote
Forsberg - Tanguay - Hejduk
Reinprecht - Parker - Messier
Bourque - Foote
Blake - de Vries
Klemm - Skoula
Detroit's top lines:
Yzerman - Shanahan - Hull
Fedorov - Robitaille - Holmstrom
Datsyuk - Maltby - Draper
Lidstrom - Duchesne
Fischer - Olausson
Chelios - Slegr
As good as the Avalanche was in 2001, you just can't match the 2002 Redwings in terms of depth and balance. This team could roll four lines like none other in the past decade or more. (Hall of Famer Larionov centered the fourth line.) Colorado relied more heavily on their top 6 forwards, which would have worn down over a 7 game series with the Wings.
Defensively, these teams were fairly evenly matched. Both had a good mix of speed and shut down abilities, and were plenty deep enough. Goaltending was also a toss up, with the two of the all-time best in Roy and Hasek.
In the end, the Wings would have had just enough to get past the Avalanche to be named the Team of the Decade.