Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Can Bufallo avoid playing a road game outside of the NYC area?

(cross-posted belatedly from Marginal Utility)

The seedings are set. Burnside's first-round pick against the Swampers has once again gone down in flames, with the final game producing only one even-strength goal. The seeding, not to mention my optimal scenario, would not have the Sabres play a road game outside of the NYC area unless they reach the Stanley Cup Finals.

BUFFALO (1) v. NY Rangers (6). As noted previously, the Sabres didn't look fast against the Islanders. But I'm more inclined to attribute that to the team they played also being fast. Against the clutching, aging Berubes, expect a return to form.

But what the Berubes lack in speed, they make up for, sometimes, in scoring ability. The bad news is that, during the regular season, they scored precisely as many goals at the Sabres gave up.

The two teams split four games in the regular season, with the visitor winning all games, but their last meeting was December 1st. And Ryan Miller is not the alternating goalies that Bob Hartley used. Look for the Rangers to take two games at most; I'm expecting a sad but proud MSG after elimination in Game Six.

OTTAWA (4) v. New Jersey (2). My heart says this goes seven, and Brodeur wins the final game.* But the Senators are a stronger team than Tampa Bay, got some rest, and have some history to avenge. I would love to be wrong here—the Devils are starting to score, and Brodeur hasn't given up an even-strength goal in nearly three games—but Ottawa in six appears the way to bet.

*My heart also feels strange about Dany Heatley now that he's not playing for the Thrashers, but this isn't a Bertuzzi thing by any stretch—more cheer that he did not become another Vladimir Konstantinov. It's nice to see him able to play at all and the possibilities the Thrashers had when I was in grad school are nearly a hockey-career-generation past.

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