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ROSEN'S BLOG: OTTAWA EYES TRIP TO FINALS

Friday, 05.18.2007 / 5:35 PM / Blogs
By Matt Rosen
On Wednesday, I was all set to post this blog when I decided to wait until Game Four ended to admit I was dead wrong about this series. It was all Ottawa and it seemed like Buffalo was all set to make a tee-time for Thursday morning. However, just nine seconds into the game, they showed that they were not going to go away without a fight.

With that said, here are my original thoughts from after the third game of the Eastern Conference finals:

Alright, I hear you. Yes, I was wrong. I predicted that the Sabres would knock off the Senators in seven games and was dead wrong. Who would have thought that Ottawa would breeze through Buffalo the way they have and jump out to a 3-0 series lead so easily? I guess maybe many people would have when you consider the numbers.

The Senators have won six straight games, 10 of their last 12 and are 12-and-2 in the playoffs. In laymen’s terms, they’re rolling right now. Ray Emery has been solid in goal; he hasn’t had to be brilliant but has made the big save every time he’s been asked to do so. Ottawa has done a great job of shutting down Buffalo’s big guns. The forwards and defensemen of the Senators have made a commitment to defense and have given Daniel Briere, Tomas Vanek, Chris Drury and company absolutely no room to skate, shoot or make plays. Briere has just one goal in the series, Vanek has a goal and an assist while Drury has been held to only one assist and in Game Three, the Sens held the Sabres to just 15 shots on goal.

Buffalo led the league in scoring during the regular season but their power play in this series has been stifled going 0-for-18 including 0-for-6 in Game Three with just one shot on goal in a 1-0 loss. Buffalo looks as though they are so frustrated, trying to do things individually, which makes them less effective on the offensive side. In my eyes, the Sabres are a “team” and need to play as one if they have any hopes of making this a series.

Ottawa has been more physical all series long and their top line Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredson and Dany Heatley have combined for 14 points in three games. They have been spectacular offensively and you can see their commitment to defense on the backcheck. That line has come through all series long as have others when they have needed to. Former Coyotes’ Mike Comrie and Oleg Saprykin have scored timely goals for Ottawa as they hope to reach the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since re-entering the league 14-years ago. Buffalo must figure out a way to slow them down otherwise there is no hope of a Red Sox-like comeback.

So those were my thoughts after Game Three. Well, Buffalo showed up in Game Four and now are headed back to the HSBC Center in Buffalo where they’ll try and take Game Five and if they do that, a chance to then even up the series in Ottawa. Can they do that? Maybe, but will they do that? Unlikely, but if any team can rally back from a 3-0 deficit it is the Buffalo Sabres.

Matt Rosen for PhoenixCoyotes.com
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