Say what you want about the Colorado Avalanche being down 3-0 in their series against the Detroit Red Wings.
I was damn impressed with their valiant effort Tuesday.
They aren’t likely to win their second round series against the President’s Trophy winners, but on a day when the three Hart Trophy finalists were announced, the Avs earned their own Heart Trophy.
Start with the fact they are playing without injured scorers Ryan Smyth and Wojtek Wolski, not to mention Marek Svatos who was put into storage late in the regular season and is not expected to play in the playoffs, and add in Peter Forsberg’s continuing tight-rope walk between permanently injured vs. star-of-the-game status, and you understand how easy it would be for the Avalanche to fold its tents.
But that didn’t happen.
At the end of the night, instead of thinking about the Red Wings victory, a well-deserved one in fact, all I could think about was Forsberg’s performance. It was captivating. He left the game in the first period after hurting his foot (or so it seemed), but retuned full of P&V (as my grandmother would say). He didn’t give up and neither did his teammates.
Without question the star of the night was Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk. His second goal of the night – the one when he stopped Brian Rafalski’s shot from the point, quickly pulled it to the side and slipped it past Jose Theodore – was one you had to see to fully appreciate. Henrik Zetterberg was spectacular, too.
But it was Forsberg, who slapped Mikael Samuelsson upside the face with his stick (earning a double minor), and who steamrolled Brad Stuart (who just happened to not be in possession of the puck) that stood out as the player who most wanted his team to win.
Too bad (for him, that is) about the outcome.
THN.com’s Playoff Blogs, featuring analysis and opinion on the action from the night before, with insight on what happened and what it all means going forward, will appear daily throughout the NHL playoffs. Read more entries HERE.
Mike Brophy, the co-author of the book Walking with Legends, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor on THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and his column, Double OT, appears Wednesday.
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