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Second-round breakdown: Devils vs. Senators

This matchup reunites the Eastern Conference finalists from 2003. In that series, the Senators' only trip to a conference final, they were beaten on a late goal by Jeff Friesen in Game 7. This season, the Senators are determined to rewrite the script and prove they are a deeper, mentally tougher group than past teams.

The Devils, on the other hand, never seem to deviate from the blueprint. Even though the team was rocked by the late-season firing of coach Claude Julien and the return of GM Lou Lamoriello to the post, they played the Tampa Bay Lightning as they've played almost every playoff series for more than a decade. In knocking off the Bolts in six games, the Devils rode a red-hot Martin Brodeur, received timely scoring from a handful of talented offensive players and played shut-down defense to get to the second round. Gee, where have we heard that before?

1. How will Emery fare? Sens goalie Ray Emery was very good when he had to be versus Pittsburgh, and this series shouldn't be all that different. Against the inexperienced Pens, the Senators dictated play for much of the series. But it was up to Emery to be sharp in those brief moments when the Sens' game plan broke down, like early in Game 5 when the Senators were short-handed for much of the first half of the first period.

Expect Ottawa to carry the play and for Emery to be tested on odd-man rushes set up by speedy forwards who will capitalize on turnovers and sloppy play. In the first round, the sophomore netminder showed he can adapt to that kind of game. With goals expected to be at a premium for the Sens, Emery will have to produce more of that kind of performance. As long as he doesn't freak out at the prospect of having to face the best goalie of his generation in Brodeur, Emery will be fine.

2. Can the Devils generate enough scoring? The Devils' big question at the start of the playoffs was whether they had enough scoring depth to make a long run. Zach Parise had a fine regular season (31 goals to lead the team), but if the Devils were to go deep in the playoffs, they needed someone other than Patrik Elias, Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta to produce. No worries so far. In the first round, Parise emerged as a young go-to guy with six goals, tops among all NHL players through the first round. Brian Rafalski, Jamie Langenbrunner, Andy Greene and John Madden all chipped in goals, as well. Maintaining that kind of offensive distribution will be key in keeping the Senators off balance.

3. Quick! Which of these teams had more power-play goals in the first round? The New Jersey Devils, who lead all playoff teams with seven power-play markers. The Senators, who played one less game, are right behind with six power-play goals. That's not all that surprising from Ottawa, given it scored 72 more goals during the regular season than the Devils. Yet the Devils' power play was cooking against Tampa and the Senators will have to stay out of the box and limit the Devils' power-play success to maintain what should be a significant offensive edge.

4. Don't run out of gas. One of the problems for Tampa Bay was it essentially had only a handful of players who could generate any offense. By the end of the series vs. New Jersey, it was clear Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Brad Richards and Dan Boyle were out of gas. If the Senators want to avoid the same fate, they'll have to get continued production from their second and third units. Against Pittsburgh, Chris Neil, Chris Kelly and Antoine Vermette were especially impressive, scoring five times in five games. Oft-maligned Mike Comrie also responded with two goals, inspired physical play and a fight against Colby Armstrong after Armstrong ran Emery. If the Sens want to move on they'll need that kind of offensive distribution.

5. Which Brodeur will we see? The Devils clearly have an edge in goaltending with Brodeur coming off three straight wins (he stopped 93 of 98 shots). Those wins came after Brodeur looked human in giving up a couple of bad-angle goals over the first three games and the Lightning looked to take control with a 2-1 series edge. As long as Brodeur plays like he did in the latter half of the first round, the Devils will always be in the mix to win. If the Sens run into the classic Brodeur road block, it will take the kind of patience and experience they say they have to get the job done.

Phillips-Volchenkov vs. Devils' top line. Given how well Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov played against Pittsburgh superstar Sidney Crosby, it stands to reason Ottawa coach Bryan Murray will want to stack the intelligent, physical defensive duo against the Devils' top line of Gomez, Elias and Gionta. The difference between the Crosby challenge and shutting this unit down is all three Devils are terrific puck-handlers and all three can fire the puck (witness Gomez's overtime winner in Game 5). All three also have tremendous playoff experience. It's not overstating the matter to suggest the winner of this particular matchup will win the series.

Senators: Captain Daniel Alfredsson had three goals, including a game-winner and three assists, and was the team's best forward through the Pittsburgh series. He had a strong start a season ago and faltered in the second round against Buffalo. The pressure's on Alfredsson to stay hot. Patrick Eaves, leveled by Pittsburgh's Colby Armstrong in Game 3, isn't close to returning to action, which means Oleg Saprykin will continue to take his place in the lineup.

Devils: Rafalski has seven points and both of his goals came on the power play. Only Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom (eight) has more points among defensemen this postseason. Veteran Devils forward Sergei Brylin was minus-4 in the first round and had one assist.

This should be more interesting than people might imagine. In the end, a grittier version of the Ottawa Senators, with better-than-expected goaltending, will best the Devils. Ottawa in six.

Scott Burnside is the NHL writer for ESPN.com.