Monday, May 07, 2007

Let's Get Ready to Rumble

One of the deejays on our local sports talk radio kept saying this yesterday - he said it so many times I wanted to rip his tongue out, really, but there's no doubt it's true: Doesn't it feel like the entire season has been building toward Buffalo and Ottawa duking it out for the right to go to the Stanley Cup Finals? Heck, you could argue that it started last season. It started with Buffalo surprising Ottawa by taking a 3-0 lead in the second round of last year's playoffs and sending them home on Jason Pominville's short-handed goal in game five. From there it went to Ottawa more or less dominating Buffalo in the regular season. And of course, there was Chris Neil's hit on Chris Drury and all that led to - players throwing punches, goalies throwing down, coaches ranting and raving, fans going nuts.

Hockey fans, I feel like it's my duty to encourage you - nay, implore you! - to do whatever you need to do to make sure you're at home and in front of a TV for the Eastern Conference finals. I really think Buffalo-Ottawa is going to be the best series of the playoffs and that includes any potential Finals match-up. The teams play similar styles - wide open, baby! - and are, in many ways, mirror images of each other. Both have multiple lines of fast, skilled forwards, both have good skating, mobile defenses, both have solid young goalies, both have smart, experienced coaches. And both want to beat the other very, very badly. The Senators want to end the team that ended them last season, finally tossing aside the choker label. The Sabres want to go one more round than they did last spring and show that the regular season wasn't a fluke.

For the record... While there are some concerns on both sides - Ottawa needs to start getting a little more secondary scoring, Buffalo needs to be more consistent on special teams - if everyone plays the way they can, I think the defenses and offenses are pretty close to a wash. That leaves us with goaltending. And while there's no doubt Ray Emery is a better goalie than he was this time last year (just wait till the devil comes to collect that soul, Ray), I'm more than comfortable giving Ryan Miller an edge. He's been the one Sabre locked in from the beginning of the playoffs, he's let in the same number of goals as Emery while facing 40 more shots behind a team that looked asleep for parts of the first two rounds. He's looked calm and confident from the first puck drop. I'm - surprise! - picking the Sabres in 7 long, tough games with Miller being the difference maker.

But seriously, watch. It's going to be awesome.


kristin said...

I agree that this has the potential to be *the* series of the playoffs. I am making a note of the game schedule, so I can plan accordingly!

Paige said...

I'm soooo excited!!! Now I just have to hope that Detroit wins, so I won't have to wait 'til Saturday for the series to start.

BTW: I LOVE that picture of Miller!


Heather B. said...

Paige, I love that picture too. Ryan isn't usually a very emotive guy so seeing him excited definitely brought a smile to my face.