The Colorado Avalanche will look to avoid a deep hole when they play host to the Detroit Red Wings in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal on Tuesday night at the Pepsi Center (10 pm ET).
The Avalanche find themselves down 2-0 to the Red Wings, but their futility extends further back. Colorado has yet to beat Detroit in six tries during the 2007-08 season.
Injuries have been of key concern for Colorado in round two, with the loss of veteran forward Peter Forsberg to a groin injury creating a big hole in the Avalanche lineup.
"It's pretty obvious what a difference Peter makes," captain Joe Sakic said. "He's one of the better players in the game and he creates a lot of attention."
Forsberg has been deemed probable for Game 3, but he's been frustrated by his inability to contribute to his team, which posted a record of 12-3-0 overall with him in the lineup.
"I try to go out and do my best every single game, and if I can't play, it's unfortunate," said Forsberg, who signed with Colorado on Feb. 25 after missing nearly 10 months while recovering from foot ailments.
"Nobody wants to play more than I want to play, but what am I supposed to do? If it doesn't feel good and I go out and I'm going to hurt it even more, and be out for the rest of the playoffs, it's not going to do any good."
A healthy Forsberg is undoubtedly a welcome sight for the Avalanche, who have been hit hard by injuries.
Forward Wojtek Wolski suffered an upper body injury after a collision with Wings forward Johan Franzen in Game 1 and is expected to miss the remainder of the series.
After Tuesday's morning skate, Avalanche head coach Joel Quenneville revealed that veteran forward Ryan Smyth will miss Game 3 with a foot injury after getting hit with a puck in Game 2.
Defenceman Scott Hannan has what Quenneville called a "foot problem" but is probable for Tuesday night. The veteran blocked a shot in Game 2 and didn't practise on Monday.
One player who will be back at full strength for Colorado is goaltender Jose Theodore, who is over the flu bug that plagued him in the first two games. Theodore was pulled in each game.
"The flu's no excuse," Theodore said. "It's never going to be an excuse... Obviously, I didn't play the way I wanted to. I know I can play better. If we're going to have a chance to win, I'm going to have to play better. That's no secret."
Detroit receiving unexpected contributions
Winners of four straight playoff games, Detroit has quietly begun to hit its playoff stride — outscoring opponents 14-5 during that streak.
But after they allowed the Nashville Predators to come back from an 2-0 series deficit in round one, the Red Wings refuse to concern themselves with any change to their opponent's lineup and will instead focus on their own game plan.
"Forsberg is obviously one of the best players ever to play," Detroit defenceman Chris Chelios said. "Not to pat him on the back or disrespect him, but we've got to worry about ourselves."
There really hasn't been that much reason for concern for the Red Wings in this series.
After starting goaltender Dominik Hasek struggled in Games 3 and 4 against the Predators, Chris Osgood stepped in and hasn't missed a beat. Osgood has won all four of his starts and remains confident his team won't fall into the same trap that they did against Nashville.
"That has no bearing, other than just the lessons we learned from it," said Osgood. "We played pretty good against Nashville. We just got snakebit, and then fell apart at times. We just have to stay composed and smart."
On offence, Johan Franzen has provided a huge spark for the Red Wings that has carried over from the regular season.
Franzen has scored 22 goals in 24 games since March 2, the most by any NHL player during that span.
He's been even better in the first two games of the second round.
The Swede scored two goals and added an assist in Game 1 to pace the team to a 4-3 victory and followed that with his first career hat trick in Detroit's 5-1 Game 2 win.
"I would've been happy to have that for the whole playoffs," laughed Franzen.
Colorado defenceman John-Michael Liles has had to chase Franzen all over the ice during the series and admits it has been a challenge.
"He's definitely playing with a lot of confidence," Liles said of Franzen.
"You look at his stats toward the end of the year — six game-winning goals in March, which is ridiculous. I don't think I have that in my career. He's playing really well, so we definitely have to find a way to shut him down and keep his chances and their chances to a minimum."
Colorado will be hardpressed to rally back against Detroit if recent history is any indication.
The Wings have won four straight series after taking a 2-0 series lead. The last time they lost a series after winning the first two games was in the 2001 postseason against the Kings.