There are several tough match-ups in round two of the Stanley Cup playoffs. In last night’s games, both Buffalo and Anaheim were favored to win. It is possible they may eventually meet up in the finals. Before both teams can think about that, they must concentrate on their current series.
Buffalo has now defeated the Rangers in five straight games. The first four took place during the regular season. Many had wondered whether those four wins during the regular season would be a good way to measure this seven game series. There is no doubt Buffalo is a scary team with lots of sharp shooting talent and a solid defense. The Rangers however are a different team than they were during the regular season. Many have said the acquisition of Sean Avery at the trade deadline turned this team around. While Avery has been a big factor, he has not been the only factor.
It is true; Avery has provided some necessary spunk in to the Rangers lineup. While Avery was hated in LA and has been polled amongst the players as the “Most Hated Player” he has managed to be very well liked in New York. Not only has Rangers Coach Tom Renney sung his praises, but also so have his teammates and the Ranger fans. Avery came to this team and started playing and defending his teammates as if he had been on the team all season long. Everyone respected that. He has in many ways brought a much-needed attitude to a team that only New Yorkers understand and appreciate. Let us call it the “John Starks Effect.” John Starks was a former basketball player for the New York Knicks in 90’s that was hated by most, but beloved by New Yorkers. During the Atlanta series, Avery managed to get under the skin of several Thrashers stars and throw them off their game. Last night, that did not happen.
While the Rangers did come out strong the first few minutes, Buffalo was able to re-grab the momentum with five straight power plays spanning the first and second period. The Rangers were never able to establish a flow to the game after that. Buffalo’s speed causes problems for other teams. They usually result in a hooking call in their favor.
We all know that Hockey is the greatest sport and there is nothing close to NHL playoffs. We also know that