Montreal Canadiens vs. Ottawa Senators First Round Preview
For the first time since the Ottawa Senators returned to the NHL in 1992, they face the Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs. Both rinks will have great atmospheres as both teams surprised critics by making the playoffs.
Let’s break this series down:
Overall Talent – If Erik Karlsson is fully back from his Achilles tendon injury, the Senators boast what was the best defenceman in the league in the first month of the season. The Habs counter with P.K. Subban who might be a Norris Trophy finalist this year. Both teams lean on contributions from young forwards and are augmented by veteran leaders. I like the Montreal forwards slightly better than Ottawa’s, mainly due to Jason Spezza’s back injury. I think both blue lines are relatively equal.
Slight Edge – Montreal
Goaltending – Carey Price played well this year but not at an elite level and had some off nights. A first round series win will have a positive impact as he continues to evolve into a Vezina Trophy contender. Craig Anderson has been unreal with the Senators this year with a .941 save percentage in an injury shortened campaign and would be the Vezina Trophy winner if he had played a full season.
Edge – Ottawa
Coaching – Paul MacLean will probably be a Jack Adams Award finalist for the second consecutive season. He has a system and has gotten his players to buy-in and the young players continue to evolve. Michel Therrien is a proven NHL coach who has a trip to the Finals under his belt with Pittsburgh in 2008. Other than that he has only been past the first round once in his career.
Edge – Ottawa
Specialty Teams – The main battle in this series will be Montreal’s 5th best power play unit versus an Ottawa penalty killing unit that was the best in the league. On the other side, Ottawa’s 20th ranked power play is mitigated by Montreal’s 23rd ranked penalty kill. I think if Montreal’s power play can continue to be successful at a 20.7% clip they will win this series.
Edge – Even
Even though the Habs had 7 more points than the Senators this year, the Senators injuries depressed their point total. I’m on the Senators bandwagon this year and I think they will cause some damage in this year’s playoffs. I think the Sens win this series in six games.