The first round of the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs was very exciting, even with the lack of close series. The matchups we got were outstanding, such as Nashville-SJ, Detroit-Calgary, Vancouver-Dallas, and there was so much passion to go along. How will round 2 pan out?
Buffalo vs. New York Rangers
I love the Rangers right now, they're playing with a huge amount of emotion and grit, mostly thanks to the elevation of Sean Avery's game. Henrik Lundqvist has looked spectacular thus far, and Ryan Miller has been solid as well. It will hard to crack these two early on, I think the series will be very offensive and high-paced, which should play right into the Sabres hands.
Prediction: Buffalo in 6
Ottawa vs. New Jersey
The X factor in this series for me is Jason Spezza. He had a reasonably solid opening series against Pittsburgh, although the Penguins didn't exactly present much of a challenge. Spezza is the Sens' go-to guy, and if he doesn't get going early on, the Sens will need depth-liners Chris Kelly, Chris Neil and Antoine Vermette to step up. I don't think the Devils have the balanced scoring attack that Ottawa does, and eventually it will be too much for even Marty Brodeur to keep up with.
Prediction: Ottawa in 7
San Jose vs. Detroit
The Sharks look better every time they take the ice, and this trend doesn't look to be slowing down anytime soon. Detroit may be the smartest and stingiest puck-handling team in the league, but they looked exhausted coming off the bench after dispatching Calgary in Game 6. San Jose picked apart Nashville's young defense and used a variety of weapons (Pavelski, Michalek, Grier, as well as Thornton, Marleau and Cheechoo), and relied on Nabokov to carry the load in net. If San Jose can somehow get as many pucks at Dominik Hasek as they did at Vokoun, we could see the Wings' season cut short again.
Prediction: San Jose in 6
Vancouver vs. Anaheim
This is a tricky one; both teams are great defensively and have great goaltending. The slight edge in this series goes to Anaheim for having a reliable tandem in Bryzgalov and Giguere, but that might not be enough to save them. The key, however, is the performance of Anaheim's kid line of Penner-Getzlaf-Perry. If they can do what they've done all year long and use their size against Vancouver's tired defense, we might see a few pucks get behind Roberto Luongo. Vancouver has to get power-play opportunities to compete, and can't afford to send Anaheim to the powerplay like they did for Dallas. If that happens, this could be a short series.
Prediction: Anaheim in 6