#1 Buffalo vs. #4 Ottawa
On Bill Clement's signal, unleash hell.
If ever there was a series that demanded a soundtrack by Nine Inch Nails, this one is it. Division rivalries always have a little extra grit, but this is ridiculous. If anybody needs a reminder, think back to 21 February.
Ottawa's Chris Neil blindsides Chris Drury. The rest of the game is mayhem. Fists fly everywhere. Martin Biron finds himself in a fight with Ray Emery. Emery is laughing. Buffalo thug Andrew Peters finds himself in a fight with Ray Emery. Emery is still laughing. Emery is a goalie, by the way.
Note to the Sabres: All goalies are a little bit nuts, but Ray Emery is another kind of nuts entirely. He's also the better goaltender in this series.
However, Buffalo has more scoring depth. Ottawa relied on Heatley, Spezza, and Alfredsson for most of their offense against New Jersey. Then again, the Devils have a better defense than the Senators.
OK, I'm just talking in circles because I have no idea who is going to win this. The teams are that close. My original pick was Buffalo, and they have home-ice advantage, so I'll stick with that.
Sabres in a bloody, brutal 7
#1 Detroit vs. #2 Anaheim
Two top goaltenders in Dominik Hasek and Jean-Sebastien Giguere. All three Norris Trophy nominees: Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger for the Ducks, Nicklas Lidstrom for the Wings. You know what this means, don't you? Every game is going to end 6-4. That's how these things usually go in the playoffs.
The Red Wings are a little more banged up right now. They're really going to miss Mathieu Schneider, who is done for the year after breaking his wrist in the San Jose series. Not that Anaheim is fresh as a daisy. Have you seen Teemu Selanne lately? His face looks like 10 miles of bad road. If he has to play 14 more games this post season, he'll look like Gerry Cheevers' old mask. And he doesn't mind it a bit, because he's hungry, he has a bright young team around him, and two of the best blueliners in the game at his back.
Detroit has experience on their side, but sooner or later, they're going to run out of gas.
Ducks in 6