Eastern Conference Preview
Sidney Crosby should pass his first postseason test in the East's tightest series
Posted: Tuesday April 10, 2007 11:27AM; Updated: Tuesday April 10, 2007 1:42PM
Sabres (1) vs. Islanders (8)
Nobody wants to face fast, talented Buffalo, especially the Islanders. Although the Isles played with great pride and intensity during the late-season surge that carried them into the playoffs, the Sabres are the best team in the East. New York doesn't have the depth or skill to match Buffalo's frontline attack of Thomas Vanek, Daniel Brière, Chris Drury and Jason Pominville.
The Pick: Sabres in five
Devils (2) vs. Lightning (7)
Watch for New Jersey's defense to rule this series. Tampa Bay stars Brad Richards, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis won't be able to manufacture enough quality scoring chances against Devils goalie Martin Brodeur. New Jersey will physically challenge Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle, who will have to step up his game in order for Tampa Bay to have any chance.
The Pick: Devils in six
Thrashers (3) vs. Rangers (6)
If Rangers scoring machine Jaromir Jagr plays with passion, Atlanta will have a tough time. The Thrashers need a gigantic performance from 6'6" defenseman Andy Sutton, who will be matched against Jagr. Face-off play could swing the series, and it's a strength for Atlanta (second in the NHL in face-off percentage). If the Thrashers take a quick lead in the series, the Rangers will struggle to bounce back.
The Pick: Thrashers in seven
Senators (4) vs. Penguins (5)
It will be imperative for Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby to battle through the persistent checking of shutdown forward Mike Fisher and smooth-skating defensmen Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov. Ottawa has a quick-strike offense led by Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson, but physical veteran Gary Roberts, acquired by the Penguins at the trade deadline, could be the difference maker.
The Pick: Penguins in six