The top seeds pretty much dominated the first round. Besides San Jose and New York Rangers, home ice has meant everything for the Conference Semi-finalists. While I went for shock in my first predictions, I will be going more safe this time around.
New York Rangers @ Buffalo Sabres
The Rangers are showing some more emotion. Just look at Jaromir Jagr's face on the goals he scored. It's not the Rangers offense that has hit a stride, it's been their defense that suddenly came to life. Atlanta is no Buffalo, and that Ranger defense and goaltending will be tested. They will be facing a faster, more creative team in Buffalo. The Thrashers/Rangers series may have been a mis-match, but Buffalo will be more of a challenge.
Sabres wins in 6 games
Ottawa Senators @ New Jersey Devils
The Devils have a formula that has worked for them. It's the most boring type of hockey, but it works. Not to mention if you beat the trap, there is one of the best goaltenders in the NHL guarding the net to back up his team. Teams that fall into the trap, get bit. Just ask the Lightning. But Ottawa may have more arsenal to put the Devils to their paces. Ray Emery has a tough challenge in front of him to match the play of Martin Broduer.
Senators wins in 5 games
Vancouver Canucks @ Anaheim Ducks
The Ducks are big and tough. Their physical play wear down teams. The way to beat it, is to score goals. Vancouver has to find its offensive touch or it will just get creamed by a very big and dangerous Duck team. Roberto Luongo will be sick of seeing Ducks in his crease. He will have to stay strong to win. "Luo" has to frustrate Duck scorers, or it will be a turkey shoot. No pun intended, I think.
Ducks wins in 6 games
San Jose Sharks @ Detroit Red Wings
The Sharks went through a battle as did the Wings. This is the series to watch. Both are big, tough and have their scoring touches. The Red Wings shooting gallery they enjoyed against the Flames is a thing of the past. They are facing a better defensive team that can also turn and burn. For the Sharks, it is important for them to stay healthy. The Red Wings are a deep team that stayed pretty healthy through their first series. The hits should be big, the goals will be highlight material, and the games will be close.
San Jose wins in 7 games
I will be cheering on the Canadien teams, for karma reasons. I would really like to see Ottawa and Vancouver do well. This round should feature some good hockey.