With the New Jersey Devils defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in the sixth game of their first-round series, the Ottawa Senators are now poised to face off against the Devils in the Eastern Conference semis.
Ottawa fans still remember that fateful game seven back in 2003, when former Devils forward Jeff Friesen scored the overtime-winning goal that sent New Jersey into the Stanley Cup Finals. Ottawa also played the Devils in the playoffs in the first round of the 1998 playoffs and defeated them in six games, before advancing to play (and eventually lose to) the Washington Capitals in the second round.
The schedule for round two has yet to be released, but word on the street is the series will start at the Continental Airlines Arena on Wednesday, April 25. This is awkward, because the Nets host the Raptors in the NBA Playoffs on the 27th and 29th, and there's some stupid Champions on Ice dealie on the 28th. Look for back-to-back games on April 25 and 26, and Ottawa's first game the headliner for Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday, April 28. Maybe, this is all speculation on my part--but CBC would probably love it. Don't count out a Sunday afternoon game for NBC the following day, either.
The season series this year favoured New Jersey, with the Devils winning three of the four matches. Ottawa won the first one by a score of 8-1, though, so that's pretty sweet. It'll probably come down to a defensive battle, and Ottawa's got the depth and speed that New Jersey didn't have to face with Tampa Bay, so the Sens must take advantage of that. Also, keep an eye out for huge passes (which often worked for Tampa Bay) or defensive rushes to break the Lou Lamoriello trap--Joe Corvo, I'm looking at you. It would be nice if Wade Redden could throw a few nice ones in there, too.
No matter what, it'll be a hell of a series. If Ottawa plays as well as they can, there's no way the Devils can match.