Eastern Conference Playoff Preview: Canadiens vs. Senators
#2 Canadiens vs. #7 Senators
Season Series: Split (1-2-1 Each)
All times Eastern. (*) = if necessary.
Montreal has had one of the stories of the year, recovering from a 2011-12 season that saw the Canadiens finish second last in the East, to finish second in the conference. The Canadiens play a traditional style of hockey, and wear the opponent down by dumping pucks in and chasing after it. They are very methodical in the defensive zone, and make crisp passes that lets their forwards enter neutral ice untouched, and with speed. Although they don’t have a lot of big bodies, they can play a physical game, a style which usually showed up in rivalry games against the Bruins and Maple Leafs this year. Montreal is going to have to penetrate the offensive zone, and take shots from everywhere, if they want to solve Ottawa’s stellar goaltending. Their penalty kill needs to be sharper than the regular season, (23rd) and their 5th ranked-powerplay will need to see some ice time in this series to make it alot easier for the habs.
Leading Scorer: Max Pacioretty – 15 G, 24 A, 39 Pts
Backstop: Carey Price – 21-13-4, 2.59 GAA, .905 SV%
X Factor: P.K. Subban – Has the young blueliner matured enough to play big minutes stopping the Sens’ offensive attack?
Ex – Blackhawk Factor: Mike Blunden,
The Senators are almost in the same position they were last season, this time finishing in 7th instead of 8th in 2012. Ottawa really impressed NHL fans this year with their extreme work ethic, and relative sucess, depite losing snipers Jason Spezza and star defenseman Erik Karlsson early on in the season. They also dealt with injuries to star goalie Craig Anderson, who led the league in GAA and SV%, although he only played in half the Senators games this season. Ottawa had early season success, and with Karlsson and Anderson back, (Spezza expected to be out for rest of season) they could return to form as one of the East’s top teams in the playoffs. Daniel Alfredsson leads the team by example, as he put up respectable numbers in his 14th season as Sens captain. The sens never give up on the play, and even if they turn the puck over they get back in to position quickly, and stifle any offensive chance. It will be interesting to see what happens when the Senators get short-handed, as they had the league’s best PK in the regular season, but Montreal had a top 5 power-play. The Sens have a realistic chance at an upset in this series, as long as key players contribute, and there is hard work throughout the lineup.
Kyle Turris – 12 G, 17 A, 29 Pts
Cory Conacher – 11 G, 18 A, 29 Pts
Backstop: Craig Anderson: 12-9-2, 1.69 GAA, .947 SV%
X-Factor: Erik Karlsson – With only one regular season game under his belt post-injury, can the leauge’s best defenseman carry the team to the second round?
Ex-Blackhawk Factor: None
Prediction Sure To Go Wrong:
With Karlsson back in the lineup, and Anderson in the crease, the Canadiens are going to have a tough time putting the puck in the net, and the series will go the distance, all the way to game 7 overtime, where Ottawa is going to prevail, and upset the Canadiens with a Kyle Turris goal, one reminiscent of Adam Henrique’s last season for the Devils.
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