Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Conference Finals Have Potential

If the Rangers couldn't have made it, then this is the next best thing. Just a few months removed from a brawl that involved everyone on both teams, the Senators and Sabres have their rematch. All of Canada will be watching as Ray Emery leads this year's "Canada's Team" against the President Trophy winning Sabres.

Keys to the Series:

Goaltending. This holds true for every Playoff series In this case, we see two goalies who haven't had much experience. Ray Emery has been playing the best of the two. He outplayed Martin Brodeur which is not something many can claim they have done. He was big wildcard coming into these Playoffs but has become Ottawa's biggest weapon.

Revenge. It's tough to believe that the two teams won't have their moments of violence. Nearly every series has so far but in this case, it's about revenge. The team that can keep a cool head will be going to the Cup. Ray Emery can't put on that wild grin as he did in the regular season. One fight or outburst could result in a suspension. At the same time, coaches need to protect their players. Expect Chris Neil to play alongside Spezza or Alfredsson from time to time.

The series is going to be about offense which is why the Western Conference series is such a nice change of pace.

Expect a lot of 2-1 or 1-0 games from Anaheim and Detroit. While Anaheim has tons of depth and weapons, Detroit has one of the best defensive schemes in the league and Nick Lidstrom will play his 27-28 minutes every game.

Keys:

Hasek. Against San Jose, Hasek let up goals in the first minute of almost every game. Against a team like Anaheim, who feeds on momentum, he needs to get a good start each time. The Wings did a great job coming back, but it'll be harder against J.S. Giguere who might be the best at shining in the postseason.

Rest. Anaheim has finished their opponents in the first two rounds in a total of 10 games. It's taken Detroit 12 games. While it may not seem like a lot, it means that Detroit has had to take an extra trip to Calgary and San Jose before coming back home. Anaheim has been able to finish out each series at home and has had the chance to get refreshed from any injuries.

I don't have much more time to type this entry out, so I'll cut to my predictions:

Buffalo vs. Ottawa
BUFFALO in 6
Series MVP: Maxim Afinogenov

Detroit vs. Anaheim
ANAHEIM in 7
Series MVP: Andy McDonald

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