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Buffalo Sabres vs Ottawa Senators

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

Buffalo Sabres (Seed 4)

The Sabres proved that they could score when they zipped in 27 goals in six games against their first round opponents the Philadelphia Flyers.

When rookie goalie (yes, another first-year tender) Ryan Miller was good, he was excellent. In the four games that he won against the Flyers, his GAA was 1.2; however when he lost, he let in an average of 4.5 goals per game. That’s quite a difference! Does Miller have to be stellar for Buffalo to take their next series and advance? No, he doesn’t have to be, but it would be a big help.

Still, even with a mediocre performance from their goalie, the Sabres, with their fast skating offense, will have a chance to take the series. This is a team whose dominant centers include Tim Connolly, Daniel Briere and Chris Drury and high-flying wingers include Mike Grier, J.P. Dumont and Jason Pominville.

Against Philadelphia, the offense scored and the defense stopped the Flyers offense. Although no defenseman scored a goal for the Sabres in that series, the “D” certainly provided assists-- about 50% of them. Still, the division of labor between the offense and defense was clear throughout the series.

Can this Buffalo team beat Ottawa? They possess a dominant attack and a good, young goaltender, who more times than not executes well. They also have one of the best defenses left in the playoffs. Buffalo can do it. But will they come through? Watch for a solid balance between offense and defense. That will be the key to their success.

Ottawa Senators (Seed 1)

For the Senators, Heatley, Spezza and Alfredsson have been a potent goal scoring force all season and that continued in their first round series win (4-1) against defending Stanley Cup Champs Tampa Bay.

Goalie Ray Emery, one of many outstanding rookie goalies in the league this year, gave up 2.60 goals per game in the initial series. He wasn’t great but he was good enough, especially because his offense provided 23 goals in five games!

Heatley was his typical explosive self in the series with eight assists and two goals. Additionally, Martin Havlat on right wing was a real difference maker putting in six goals and making four assists. Ottawa can score and in bunches.

But they can also be shut down, as was seen during the regular season, and if that happens they’ll be hard pressed to come out ahead against their next opponent, the Buffalo Sabres. The major concern, however, is not scoring for this team but. Chances are good that they will score goals. It’s keeping the puck out of their net. Emery has not, up to this point, played up to the level of a Stanley Cup Championship goalie.

Second Round Playoff Series Prediction:

Buffalo over Ottawa in 7 games

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