The Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators met in the first-round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2013. I picked the Habs to win, but the Senators surprised, winning in five. They did so by matching Montreal’s speed game, and getting under their skin. It’s a strategy they may want to employ once more.
The Canadiens had a great 2014-15 season, recording 110 points, and winning the Atlantic Division. However, I still wonder if they’re a great team or if they’re simply the benefactors of goaltender Carey Price’s Hart Trophy calibre season. After Price, how good are the Montreal Canadiens?
Perhaps it doesn’t matter, because Price is good enough to carry a team all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. Not since late-nineties Dominik Hasek have I seen an NHL goalie dominate an entire NHL season the way Price did this year.
The Senators finished the season with 23 wins, 3 losses and 3 OTLs to complete an incredible second half playoff push. They enter this series as the hotter of the two teams.
The Senators have the Canadiens number, as well. Ottawa won 3 of 4 against Montreal this season.
This series features a head-to-head battle between arguably the two best offensive defencemen in hockey — Montreal’s P. K. Subban and Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson. Hockey is a game of inches. This series could potentially be decided by a Subban blast from the point, or a Karlsson rush in overtime.
I believe the teams are more evenly matched than the standings indicate. And you’ll notice throughout my predictions that I am anticipating a few upsets this postseason.
Sal’s Prediction: Ottawa Senators in 7.
The Canadiens aren’t an offensive juggernaut. For all the success they’ve had this season, they’re a team that has to grind out wins, for the most part. Their opponent — the Senators — has been playing meaningful hockey for the last two months. I’d not be shocked at all if they give the Habs all they can handle in the first round. Things are going right for Ottawa, and I expect that to continue for at least one round in the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs, but I think this one will go right down to the wire, Game 7, quite possibly overtime.