Finally. After 7 days between rounds, the Senators begin round two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals tonight in New Jersey.
I could outline all the keys to victory here but they haven’t really changed much since the blog entry, Stanley Cup Formula, posted earlier this month.
The one variable in this series: Martin Brodeur. At no point in the Pittsburgh series did the Sens feel “snake-bitten” as they have many times in the past. That was due to the fact there really isn’t much respect level yet for Marc Andre Fleury. Against Fleury, the Sens took the attitude, “Don’t worry. We’ll eventually get to this kid.”
It’s a whole other story with Brodeur. He didn’t truly catch fire until the end of the Tampa series but basically took it over. The Sens’ shooters will have to work through a defensive barbed wire that wasn’t there against Pittsburgh. Getting through that is frustrating enough. Your reward for doing so is another source of frustration – one of the greatest goalies in history.
The Sens’ ability to handle that potential frustration will be huge in this series.
Scoring first will also be huge. It won’t put the game away but once the Devils get that first goal, all of the above examples of frustration are magnified further.
But keep in mind, there is one ray of hope for entertainment in this series. Tampa almost beat the Devils by going all offence but ran out of gas, due to lack of depth. It made for a suprisingly watchable series. The Sens, much more balanced across four lines, might have success trying John Tortorella's game plan.
Time to get it on. And by the way, here’s this round’s playoff song. My Billy Idol could use some work.