My prediction gravy train overturned on a hill of mashed potatoes. What that means, I'm not sure-- but if you're relying on these predictions to make your bets, then you're probably out some money and for that...my bad.
Yet, we've come to the Eastern Conference Finals. As it goes, both the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes have to wait until the Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks finish their series, which will happen on Wednesday at the earliest. So, we wait, speculate, and something else that ends with "ate." However, this should be a good series with two teams who may have disposed of their opponents early, but it wasn't as easy as they would have made it look.
The Sabres played a tough series with the Ottawa Senators, where all the games were one goals games and three of the five went to overtime to decide a winner. The depth that the Sabres had in their line-up really helped the Sabres outwork, outplay, and some times out smart the Senators. The Sabres best players were always on and rarely did Ryan Miller disappoint. Chris Drury and Daniel Briere were amazing, while J-P Dumont and Mike Grier chipped in their fair share of the work.
The Hurricanes made it look easy in the first game, but you could never really count the Devils out with Martin Brodeur in net. Then Eric Staal, Cory Stillman, and Rod Brind'Amour really turned it on. The Canes jumped on the Devils penalty troubles, scoring nine of their 17 goals with the extra man advantage. Cam Ward was pretty lights-out for the Canes, and bounced back real quickly from the 5-1 blow-out on Game Four.
This match-up will be full of speed, finesse, and a story of two hot goalies. Ryan Miller and Cam Ward really have nothing to lose at this point. They have exceed expectation and shouldn't put too much pressure on themselves. Chris Drury, Daniel Briere, and J-P Dumont have to show up like they did against Ottawa, while Maxim Afinogenov will need to show up more prominently for the Sabres to really show off their depth. Eric Staal is on a roll and doesn't seem to be hexed in his first playoff appearance. Rod Brind'Amour, Mark Reechi, and Doug Weight have been here before and should be at their best. Let's not for get Cory Stillman, who was in this situation just a season ago.
Defensively, both the Canes and Sabres have pretty "no named" defenses. For the Sabres, Toni Lydman, Brian Campbell, and Jay McKee have really stood out for the Sabres, while on the flip side, Aaron Ward, Mike Commodore, and Bret Hedican will be at their best for the Canes. Both Lydman and Commodore are a little more seasoned with the run the Flames made last season, which could the mentality of both of them out.
Normally, I would make a prediction, but I realized I suck. The only thing I really hope for is a good series. The Sabres/Sens series would have been even better if it would have lasted longer, but I hope the Sabres and Canes are saving their best for towards the end. The rest should really help the minor injuries and all that. The East is usually known for quality Conference Finals, with three of the series going a full seven games since 2000. With these two teams being as good as they are, here's hoping for hockey fans everywhere that it does go that long.