This looks familiar, Anaheim and Buffalo both in the Conference Finals for a second year in a row. The two now have the possibility to play in the "what could have been" series from a season ago. But of course the two face some pretty mighty opponents before that ship has sailed.
Ottawa Senators at Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres have sort of plodded along this post season. At the beginning of the year they seemed unstoppable. They were run and gun. They enjoyed a speedy game and loved the open ice. The Senators on the other hand were picked apart by free agency over the summer. The looked less like a team that could go to the playoffs, let alone the Eastern Conference Finals. These two have attacked the post season in some pretty different ways. But the result has been the same.
For Buffalo to win, they have to shed this funk they are in. Lindy Ruff has them playing a more defensive role in the post season, and that may play into the hands of a team that has beaten a defensive orientated team. Ottawa just needs to keep its scoring machine oiled and ready to go again. For the goaltenders, this should be the ultimate test. Ray Emery must be solid in the net against one of the most potent offenses in the league. Ryan Miller will have to deal with the most potent offense in the post season.
Sabres wins series in 7 games
Detroit Red Wings at Anaheim Ducks
This is why you get Todd Bertuzzi. This is why you traded your number one draft pick and a rookie for brute strength. To face Anaheim. The Ducks are mean, they are big, they are tough, and they will hurt your line up. Detroit has found their post season offense finally, and aren't afraid to mix it up a little themselves. And Todd Bertuzzi is Detroit's key.
For Anaheim, if it ain't broke, run it in to the boards until some thing does. They have to remain a physical team and wear down Detroit. But beware, go out of you way to knock a block off, and you will be sitting with San Jose and Calgary scratching your head. J.S. Gigere has been okay, this post season. He will have to be spectacular if the Ducks wish to advance. Detroit's game has been simplified. Play tough, go to the net, score. It's worked. Pavel Datsyuk must be a threat again and the Red Wings must stay healthy. Dominik Hasek is Hasek. He is going to let in a couple of softies, but he stays focused, Detroit will be singing a Stanley Cup tune.
Red Wings wins series in 6 games
How's that for a shocker. Anaheim, in my opinion, has face two relative easy teams in the post season. They have yet to face a worthy challenge. The Red Wings will be ready to take them on and test them out. It's a question of who is more battle ready. The Sabres will make their series interesting, maybe dropping a couple key games. But Lindy will be there to set the boys straight. Only one round away from crowning a champ.