NOW the playoffs are really beginning. Islanders, it was fun, thanks for the warm-up. Rangers, nice job, you had me a little worried there for a few games. But Ottawa... Oh yes, Ottawa. Brad Riter said it about a million times on the radio this afternoon, but it's true: Doesn't it feel like the whole season has been leading to Buffalo and Ottawa duking it out for the right to move on to the Cup finals? Starting with Buffalo beating Ottawa in the playoffs last year, moving onto to Ottawa's dominance of Buffalo throughout most of the regular season, and of course the Chris Neil hit on Chris Drury and all the craziness that followed... It's all led to here.
It appears we'll have a few days before the next series starts so I'll probably post some more in-depth thoughts later, but here's my first, gut instinct when thinking about this match-up: It's all about the goaltending. If both teams play at their highest level, things are pretty even. Both teams have multiple lines that can score, and good skating, mobile defenses. Both teams can play wide open hockey, both teams can tighten things up defensively when necessary. I reallly think the series comes down to goaltending and in that case, I like our chances. Emery is a good goalie - definitely better than he was a year ago - but I don't think he's going to play as well as DiPietro did in the first round and I know he's not going to play as well as Lundqvist did in the second round. Emery has the flashy shutouts but Miller is locked in and ready to go. He did a wonderful job against a dangerous Rangers offense and I know he'll do the same against the Senators. I don't think Emery has been challenged too much yet and I think this is the series where we see how far he's really come.
Should be a good one for sure, hockey fans