Saturday, May 06, 2006

Round 2 Starts Off With A Bang

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to Hazel Mae.

Can you hear that? Listen carefully...keep listening. What you hear (from wherever you are checking in from) is the whimpering of the SenaTards faithful as fear of another choke sets in. The Buffalo Sabres came back twice in the third period, the game tying goal came with 11 seconds left in the third, after the Tards had taken a 6-5 lead with just over a minute left in the period - Chris Drury scored 18 seconds into overtime to give the Sabres a 1-0 lead in the series.

While many will shrug this off just the first game in a long series, I look at it from the viewpoint that the Sabres came back twice late in the game against a team they haven't been able to beat this year. The Sabres will feed off this game, while the seeds of doubt and deja-vu have been planted against a team who's psyche is fragile at the best of times. The SenaTards brass will pass this off as just one game, they will claim that they knew they were in for a tough series; but the fact remains that they blew leads two leads in the last 2+ mins of an all important Game 1 - before the game, the talk was centered around "setting the tone" for the series with a win over the Sabres.

I said last night that I thought Buffalo would take the series and that I would take Miller over Emery any day of the week; neither played well tonight, but you could see the look of disbelief in Emery's eyes when Derek Roy tied the game at five with 2+ mins left; and the look of fear when the Sabres tied it with 11 seconds left. They left the ice after the thrid period with that look on their face that said, "We can't win tonight - they are going to beat us". The Tards were completely deflated after the game tying goal - they had already given up before they started overtime. Remember, the key players on this team - Redden, Phillps, Alfredsson, Havlat, Fisher (and to a lesser extent) Chara, Schaeffer and Spezza have been through this before - they have lost series they were supposed to win. The unravelling has begun. Seven goals against a team that boasts about having the best defence in the league.

The difference in this series may come down to the attitude of the coaches - between the third period and overtime Derek Roy told CBC that right after Ottawa went up 6-5, Lindy Ruff told his team that they could get another goal - Ruff wasn't giving up on them. Bryan Murray left the ice with a look that was somewhere between the Bermuda triangle of anger, fear and confusion; rather than rally his Tards, Murray walked off the bench with his head down...he knew something was going to happen.

I called the Sabres in six, and I believe it even more now.

I went 6-2 in the first round matchups, including the Oilers upset over the Wings, with only Dallas and the Rangers blowing it for me. My Round 2 picks

Anaheim over Colorado in six games - Colorado surprised Dallas in Round 1, but the Ducks will be ready for them. I give the edge to the Ducks because I think their D is better than Colorado's, and Scott Niedermeyer is the X factor. The goaltending is a saw off in this series (Jose Theodore is starting to look like his old self) and so are the forwards (Anaheim's scoring is more evenly distributed than Colorado's). The Ducks will be disciplined enough to stay out of the box and not let Colorado's power play beat them.

Carolina over New Jersey in seven games - I thought the Rangers would have exploited the Devils lack of team speed on defence; they didn't, but Carolina certainly will. I see Carolina's speed drawing a lot of penalties, and their power play winning them the series. Cam Ward is playing well enough to give the Canes' the confidence to attack a slower Devils team. I see this series going the way of the Sabres/Flyers series - a homer series, with the faster and more skilled team winning.

San Jose over Edmonton in six games - Joe Thornton didn't get untracked against Nashville, but he will against Edmonton. I can see the Bruins' fans rolling their eyes as they read this saying "Sure he will"; but Thornton asserts himself this series against an Oiler team that isn't particularly big down the middle. With the way he shut down Nashville in Round 1, I would take Toskala over Roloson.

Edmonton took advantage of Detroit's lack of team speed - San Jose can match Edmonton. San Jose's defense is more mobile and are better puck movers than Edmonton's, and that will be the difference. Oh yeah...and Joe Thornton.

That's about it for tonight - I'll check back in tomorrow with some of the stories that should have made a Weird & Whacked Wednesday entry. Have a great one peeps.

Hazel, I hope things are groovy in your world...enjoy your weekend.

Song of the Day on Hazelspeeps - for the Sabres and their fans

Oh Be Joyful - Matthew Good

Peesth Out!


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