After spending a week healing their wounds, the Rangers head into the second round of the playoffs tonight rested and ready. They will need to be at the top of their game to beat the Buffalo Sabres, a deep and talented team with plenty of guys who can fly all over the ice.
Sean Avery has vowed to make every check hurt and the Rangers are going to need to put hits on the Sabres and slow the game down if they want to compete. Backchecking will be critical and players like Avery, Betts and Ortmeyer are going to have to get into the corners and get the puck. The Rangers have the talent to play with Buffalo, but we think the Sabres will prevail in six hard-fought games.
The Devils take the ice tomorrow night against Ottawa and they had better be ready to face another team with the ability to score a lot of goals. Danny Heatley scored 50 goals this season, while the Senators had 4 other players score 20 or more.
Ray Emery had an outstanding season in goal and while he will be tough to beat, Martin Brodeur is better. How do we see it? The Senators stretch the Devils to the limit, but New Jersey wins in seven.
Photo of a Sabers fan during their round one series against the Islanders by AP/Don Heupel