Anytime you read any blog about this Ranger/Sabre series you hear the same things over and over and over again. The Sabres fan say their depth is amazing and unbeatable and remarkable and the Ranger fans come back with saying that Avery will drive Buffalo into an insane asylum and Jagr is going to net 50 goals in however many games. Thats all great and fantastic except for one thing. That one thing is the MOST IMPORTANT matchup of this series...the goalies.
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Look at the style of play by both teams. Buffalo loves pinching its D-Men to come in and look for scoring chances and their D plays deeper inside the opposing teams blue line then any team I have seen this year. This strategy bodes well if you are outworking the other team and playing mistake free hockey, but in a 7 game series you will make mistakes and odd man rushes will not be hard to come for the Rangers when those mistakes happen.
Not to mention the Rangers powerplay which was 8th in the league in the regular season and dismantled Atlanta in Round 1. Sabres fans can talk about their great defenseman all series long but the Rangers will get a lot of shots on Miller and if he is even less then stellar in net for any game, the Sabres will lose that game.
Unless of course, the counterpart is no better. Yes, the Rangers defense has had amazing improvement in the last third of the season and the first round of the playoffs. And fans of other teams that haven't watched the Rangers and talk about their poor defense are obviously auditioning for the ESPNNews commercial when the guy talks sports out of his ass. However, any Ranger fan that thinks the Sabres will not be taking at least 30 shots every game on Lundqvist might as well audition for that same commercial. The Sabres are faster then the Rangers and their 3rd and 4th lines are a bit more skilled then ours. Their powerplay is nothing to laugh at and their pace of goal scoring this year has been amazing. No Ranger fan will be comfortable when Marek Malik is out on the ice with Briere or Afinogenov. Those guys can circle around Malik twice without him realizing he needs to skate to play defense. Buffalo will get their shots and just like with Miller, if Lundqvist is less then stellar the Rangers have a very small chance of winning.
Of course if they're both less then stellar then we'll have some awesome 7-6 games, but thats not going to happen. One goalie will outplay the other in this series and that will be the deciding factor. Which goalie will outplay the other? Unlike the rest of the psychic network on hockeybuzz I don't know, but I'll tell you this...I can't wait to see.
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