DETROIT With more than a dozen future Hall of Famers playing for the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings, the Western Conference finals is living up to the hype.
"It's simply unbelievable the amount of skills and the quality of the leadership on both teams," Colorado coach Bob Hartley said Sunday after both teams practiced. "And that's why this round is even at 2-2, and that's why there is so many Hall of Famers on both sides."
The winner of tonight's Game 5 in the Western Conference finals at Joe Louis Arena will take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
"Everybody knows it's big," Detroit's Sergei Fedorov said.
Everybody also knows that there's enough talent and grit on these two teams to put hockey's best product on display.
"Both teams are so gifted offensively and so strong defensively, and with the goaltenders on both teams there really are no chinks in either team's armor," Detroit's Brendan Shanahan said. "Every game has been so close. We like the way we're playing, and we still feel very confident.
"It's 2-2 now and it's almost like a new series."
Joe Sakic said the Avalanche were thankful to split the last two games because Detroit outplayed them and outshot them 75-43 in Denver.
"We know if we play the same way we did the last two games, chances are we're not going to come out of this," said Sakic, who said this series is one of the best he's played in.
The Avalanche believe the only reason the series is tied is because of Patrick Roy. The NHL's winningest goalie made 31 saves in his record-setting 237th career playoff game Saturday, one game after stopping 40 shots in an overtime loss.
Roy was the first Colorado player to walk off the team bus and into Joe Louis Arena for practice Sunday, and was one of the last players to leave the ice.
He was not in the mood to talk about the series or the goalie matchup, but Dominik Hasek was.
"I'm facing one of the best goalies in the history of playoffs," Hasek said. "It's great. I enjoy it."