Face to Fetes’- Hello Philly… Hello Second Round?
Our playoff prayers started about a month ago when the Sabres we’re looking up at the Hurricanes in 8th place… boy that seems like ages ago now. In their final 24 games the Sabres went 16-4-4 and finished with 96 points; which would have been good enough for 6th place if they hadn’t lost the tie breaker to the limping Habs. And now after, what I would call a heartless effort AT HOME with your season on the line, the ‘Canes find themselves watching on their couch this season. So not only did the Sabres make the playoffs, they made it by catching fire and skate into the post season red-hot. If that wasn’t enough they face Philadelphia in the first round… oddly enough, that was our best case scenario! I don’t wanna face Ovechkin, Semin and a veteran core in Washington. I didn’t wanna face Pittsburgh who knows how to win the playoffs; on top of that- they have 106 points and that’s WITHOUT Sid the Kid and Malkin… That’s correct. That’s no typo, the Pens our tied for third most points in the NHL and they’ve done it with… I don’t even know who? Besides Fleury name three more players on the Penguins…? Times up. Exactly I have no clue how they did it and that’s why I believe Dan Balysma deserves the Jack Adams award for Coach of the Year. I wouldn’t wanna face Boston in the first round. At times we have tough time scoring and throw in Tim Thomas and we could be in trouble. Out of the top four teams in the east I am LEAST afraid of the Flyers. And I’ll tell you why.
Here’s another trivia question, who is the Flyers starting goalie? Trick question, neither do they. They might give the nod to 22-year-old rookie Sergei Bobrovsky but he has been anything but solid in the net for Philly this year (including getting pulled after 3 goals on 10 shots in the season finale against the Islanders). Actually at times he’s been so bad, Coach Peter Laviolette has had to turn 33-year-old career back up Brian Boucher. OHHHH NOOOO I’m so scared of that two-headed monster… please give me a break. I wonder how the shaky rookie will hold up when he looks down the ice and sees Olympic Star and reigning Vezina trophy winner Ryan Miller. I think between the pipes Buffalo has a slight advantage.
There’s no getting around the depth that the Flyers have up front but Buffalo is playing well too. Gerbe looks like the Hobey Baker award winner we draft out of Boston College and Vanek and Stafford and now finding the back of the net on a routine basis. Brad Boyes has been the best mid-season pick up the Sabres have had in years and Tyler Ennis is playing like Maxim Afinogenov in his prime. Pominville has seen some success and I have no idea how but Tim Connelly has even scored a few goals recently. They’re no Briere, Giroux, or Richards but they can be a solid core of young talent. Defense can be a toss-up too depending on the health of future Hall of Famer Chris Pronger. If Pronger is 100% then it would be hard to find a better defense group than Philadelphia. For Buffalo, Tyler Myers and Andrej Sekera will have to limit their careless mistakes to give Miller or Enroth (for the matter) a chance.
All in all I think it comes down to goal tending as so many playoff series often due and i see Buffalo having the advantage. Sabres in six?