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25 April 2007

Interviewed by (Series Preview)

I recently conducted an interview with Rangers Review.

Here is the transcript of this interview and think of it as my personalized preview of the series from the Sabres' perspective.

What do you expect to be the four forward lines, and the 3 defensive pairs?
Good possibility Paul Gaustad could return late in the series

Tallinder-Lydman (will be matched with Jagr every chance Lindy gets)

What are the expected powerplay and penalty kill combinations, and how do you feel your team will matchup against the other team in these aspects?
Lindy has been shuffling the PP and PK combos quite a bit, especially in game 4 and 5 vs. the Islanders.
I think we may see situations where he goes with standard line combinations for the PP and subs in Connolly on the point and Drury with the Briere line.
I expect the Sabres' power play to be effective, but not great.
The Rangers, in my estimation, have a huge advantage in the area of special teams.
Jagr had seven of his 8 points against us on the PP this season and the Rangers looked dangerous every time this season against Buffalo.
If the Sabres play out of control or take foolish penalties the Rangers could take over this seres on special teams.
Add to that the fact that special teams situations slows down the rolling of lines and really takes away from Buffalo's depth advantage.

How do you expect the goaltending matchup to shake out? How confident would you be if your main goalie went out and your backup had to take over?
I think Miller will be excellent.

He got better as the Islanders series went on and he seems to save his best games for the better teams.
I think Jagr, Straka, Shanahan will bring out the best in him.
Henrik Lundqvist is a goaltender who scares me. He is a great goaltender who, when hot, can win a series by himself.
I believe he is a far superior goaltender to Rick DiPietro.
Assuming that both are bringing their a-games it should be a wash.
This series, in my estimation, will basically come down to limiting odd man rushes and getting to the net.
If the goalies see the puck in this series it will not go in.
We may very well have a couple of long OT games in this round.
If either team loses their #1 goaltender they could be in serious trouble. I view Weekes as a better option than Conklin though.

What is the one aspect of the team that could single-handedly win the series?
For the Rangers it would be their power play which can be dominant.
For the Sabres it is their superior depth.
The Sabres generally feast on other teams 3rd and 4th lines. I expect Afinigenov, Roy and Vanek to be difference makers every shift. Also, the Connolly line could have some significant success if they get the right matchups.

What could be the team’s Achilles heel this series?
For the Sabres I would worry about toughness especially around the net.
I am concerned that our defense will have a tough time dealing with the Rangers big strong wingers.
Ryan Smyth was terrific and guys like Jagr and Shanahan could really cause the Sabres problems down low.

Which player is going to step up unexpectedly to win a game or 2?
I really think this could be Derek Roy's chance to shine.
I really think that line will be the difference maker in this series.

The game is on the line. Who do you want to have the puck?
I want the puck on Chris Drury's stick.
The man scores huge, huge goals.
Honorable mention goes to Jason Pominville who also seems to have that knack.

How do you feel about the coaching matchup?
It would appear on face value that Lindy Ruff would have a large advantage.
I have already read a few places where people show no respect for Tom Renney.
It is hard to argue with Lindy's success. I'll give him the advantage.
I think it needs to be said that sometimes the best coaching is being able to get out of your player's way.
I think Renney has done that in New York.

What 1 or 2 players do you fear from the opponent most?
Brendan Shanahan and Henrik Lundqvist.
The fear of Jagr is a given.

Do you expect this to be an overly physical, rough, or dirty series?
I expect it to be extremely physical.
The intensity should be dynamic and the crowds should only feed it.
Interestingly Sean Avery has already gotten the Sabres fans in a lather and he has never played against the Sabres yet with the Rangers.
It is somewhat amusing, he appears to be in the fans heads, here is hoping he doesn't get in the Sabres' heads.

Without getting too detailed, give us your predictions for this series...
Sabres in 6. I expect a few long, long games but the Sabres depth will win out.

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