Originally created 05/07/99

Avs say key in avoiding penalties



DENVER -- At the very least, the Colorado Avalanche were sending mixed signals.

On the one hand, coach Bob Hartley and several players insisted it was vital to avoid thuggery and unnecessary penalties in their second-round playoff series with the Detroit Red Wings, which opens here Friday night.

Then, the Avalanche added to their roster a pair of enforcer types, Scott Parker and Chris Dingman.

"We have some injuries with (Stephane) Yelle and (Valeri) Kamensky, and we wanted to have depth," Hartley said Thursday. "I haven't decided how much they will play and in what situations."

Detroit coach Scotty Bowman, whose team is seeking a third straight Stanley Cup, said he was unaware of the roster moves until informed by the media.

"This is the first I've heard of it," Bowman said diplomatically. "Teams recall players to get depth. With injuries, you've got to have enough players. We don't concern ourselves with what the other team does, because we have nothing to do about it, really."

Chances are, neither Parker nor Dingman will see significant action. The Avalanche sounded sincere when talking about the importance of playing disciplined hockey throughout the series with their hated Western Conference rivals.

"If a team is willing to throw a game away to prove that they're tougher than the other team, well, that's their choice," Hartley said. "We're not going out there to run after people or to be stupid, and I'm fairly certain they're talking the same way in the other locker room. Neither team can afford to take stupid penalties. Neither team can let the game look like a circus.

"You have to remember with the two-man referee system right now, that changes the entire game. This is a series where discipline will be a key factor. I don't think we can afford them going 5-on-3 against us, and it's the same thing for them."

Avs defenseman Aaron Miller agreed.

"You can't take bad penalties in the playoffs," he said. "You can't run around with your head cut off. You've got to be composed. I know there have been a lot of things that have happened in this series in the past, but it's very simple now: We've got to win four games. We're not worried about who has more hits at the end of the series. It's the four wins that matter.

"If we have to get run over and run through the glass to do it, we don't care. The more I get hit, the better. That means the less they are worried about our other players."

Discipline hasn't been an appropriate word to describe recent games in this series, which is one of the bitterest rivalries in all of sports.

The nastiness began in the 1996 playoffs during Colorado's drive toward a Stanley Cup championship. Detroit's Slava Kozlov pushed Colorado's Adam Foote's face into the glass, causing a gash that needed 20 stitches to close. Then Colorado's Claude Lemieux sucker-punched Kozlov in retaliation, drawing a one-game suspension.

Lemieux subsequently drew a two-game suspension for shoving Kris Draper into the boards, causing a facial injury that required plastic surgery to repair.

Avalanche goalie Patrick Roy had on-ice fights with Detroit goalie Mike Vernon in 1997 and with Chris Osgood in 1998.

In retaliation for the attack on Draper, Detroit's Darren McCarty pummeled Lemieux in a 1997 regular-season game.

Finally, in their most recent meeting on March 14, Detroit's Kirk Maltby received a four-game suspension for breaking Kamensky's forearm with a slash.

Often obscured by the bad blood is the fact that Detroit-Colorado games tend to feature outstanding hockey.

"Every time Detroit plays Colorado, there is a very entertaining game," Red Wings center Steve Yzerman said.

Osgood is troubled by a knee injury and Bowman said Thursday his availability in goal would probably be a game-time decision.

"He's improved," Bowman said, "but a goalie has to be 100 percent to play. Right now, I don't know."

Osgood said he "felt a lot better. I will come in (Friday) and go from there."

If Osgood can't play, Bill Ranford, who went 3-0-1 since being acquired from Tampa Bay on March 23, would replace him.