Red Wings have 2-0 series lead over Avalanche as it shifts to Colorado

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DENVER - Peter Forsberg didn't come back just to sit out a series against the Red Wings.

Still, the Colorado Avalanche forward is taking the cautious route as he recovers from a groin injury. When asked if he'd play in Game 3 on Tuesday night, Forsberg simply answered, "We'll see."

He's frustrated by the fact he had to watch both of Colorado's losses in Detroit. Forsberg then felt the need to defend his decision to sit out.

"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."

The Avalanche will gladly take Forsberg in any condition. He's come to mean that much to them.

"If he goes out there on one leg he's better than most of us on two," defenceman John-Michael Liles said. "He's got that ability to be out there in a walker if he wants and still score goals."

The status of Forsberg is in the back of the Red Wings' mind, but they're not dwelling on it.

"Forsberg is obviously one of the best players ever to play," defenceman Chris Chelios said. "Not to pat him on the back or disrespect him, but we've got to worry about ourselves."

There's not much to worry about for the Red Wings right now. But they know that could quickly change. Detroit was up 2-0 on Nashville in the opening round only to see the Predators tie up the series, before the Red Wings finished them off in Game 6.

"That has no bearing, other than just the lessons we learned from it," said goalie Chris Osgood, who took over for Dominik Hasek in Game 4 of that series and has been in net ever since. "We played pretty good against Nashville. We just got snakebit, and then fell apart at times. We just have to stay composed and smart."

Detroit has received a big offensive lift from Johan Franzen so far in the series against Colorado. He had two goals in the first game and a hat trick on Saturday.

"I would've been happy to have that for the whole playoffs," laughed Franzen, who has seven goals and three assists in the post-season.

Franzen wasn't sure if he could keep up his current scoring spree.

"I'm not that good," he said. "I think that's impossible. Hopefully, I can continue to contribute as much as I can."

Liles has spent enough time chasing Franzen around the rink to learn one thing - he's pretty good.

"He's definitely playing with a lot of confidence," Liles said. "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."

The Avalanche will have a healthy Jose Theodore in net after he's finally shaken 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."

For the Avalanche to get back into the series, they may need Forsberg's presence.

He realizes that, so do his teammates.

"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."

Detroit coach Mike Babcock said if Forsberg does play, it won't cause the Wings to deviate from their game plan.

"We believe we have a blueprint for the we have to play to be successful. That's not going to change," Babcock said. "He's a dynamic player. I just think it gives them one more weapon, one more guy to scare you with. Everyone knows who No. 21 is."

Notes: Babcock thinks Washington's Alex Ovechkin is going to capture the Hart Trophy as the NHL's MVP. ... Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville said D Scott Hannan had a "foot problem" but there was a chance he could play Tuesday night. ... Ryan Smyth, Ian Laperriere and Milan Hejduk didn't skate Tuesday, but were expected to play.


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