CFN – Sens vs Habs for round one of the play offs.
This season it’s great to see so many Canadian teams making the second season, but tragically there are two series that will knock out two of our teams.
Montreal, while finishing first is vulnerable.
The team nabbed Devante Smith Pelly instead of a sniper like last year’s late season pick up in Thomas Vanek.
Scoring up front has been a need for the team.
With the injury to Max Pacioretty it could spell a first round upset unless someone on the team steps up or if Carey Price can take his Hall of Fame caliber regular season and continue it in the play offs?
Montreal had a stellar regular season. 108 points with a +32 goal differential. The 189 goals given up tied Chicago for the league lead. Pacioretty led the team with 37 goals and 67 points. He added 106 hits and did everything including make a lethal short handed duo with Tomas Plekanec.
PK Subban will be up for Norris consideration as he showed a lot of maturity. He notched 60 points, was +21 and logged more minutes than Andrei Markov who himself had a terrific year as well.
The team and maybe even league MVP though goes to Carey Price. A new Habs record 44 wins, 1.96 GAA and .933 save percentage are simply gaudy. 9 shut outs in this age also frankly is stunning. He needs to bring that game to the play offs.
The defensive depth of Montreal is a strong point. Markov & Subban are up front. Emelin and Petry seem to be the second combo with Beauleau and Pateryn logging the bottom pair. This writer thinks that Sergei Gonchar will be in the mix before this series is over. Tom Gilbert and last year’s hero, Mike Weaver are also in the mix.
Montreal doesn’t have as many options up front. It has depth, but not high octane depth and will need players to play above themselves and show character, something the Sens have no shortage of.
Habs to watch this series: Price, Subban, DSP.
The Sens are the Cinderella story of this season. While former star Jason Spezza put up the numbers the team seems to have better play off luck without him on the squad.
GM Bryan Murray is most likely manning his final season and after an early season coach firing the Young Guns have taken over and you can sense a real sense of hunger and urgency. Mix that in with the emergence of the Hamburglar, goalie Andrew Hammond who rattled out a 20-1 record down the stretch over his 23 starts and the mix for upset is there for the making.
Ottawa plays a fast strong game. The Sens had eight players with over 100 hits recorded this season with Erik Karlsson adding 93 to go with his team leading 66 points. Even little used Colin Greening 85 hits in 26 games. Mark Borowiecki led the team with 233 hits and 107 PIMS.
The Habs will pay a price in this series win or lose and it is the Habs to lose which puts a lot less pressure on Ottawa who upset Montreal the last time the two teams matched up, but this is a very different Sens squad.
Mark Stone (26 goals), Mike Hoffman (27 goals), and Mika Zibanejad (20 goals) are maturing quickly. Hab killer JG Pageau is still around too.
Kyle Turris put up a strong enough season as the #1 Centre. The tougher match ups did diminish his offence a bit (64 points in 82 games). Bobby Ryan also scored less after signing his big contract, but he can make up for that in the play offs.
The Sens don’t have the offensive depth that Montreal does. The home ice advantage should help Montreal.
On D the Sens have Marc Methot teamed up with Karlsson. After that it’s a mix of 2nd year D man Cody Ceci, Patrick Weircioch, Eric Gryba, Jared Cowen, Mark Borowiecki, and vet Chris Phillips. It’s a defense that built around Karlsson and the punishment of those that come near their net which could end up with extra power play time for Montreal who have had difficulty on the power play this season.
Over all Ottawa out shot and out scored Montreal, but the Habs are better at keeping the puck away from their own net.
Special teams were close, but Montreal clearly had the advantage over Ottawa on face offs during the regular season.
This series screams Montreal win, but bounces and officiating will play a big role.
Who do you think will win CFN fans? You can post your comments below.
Will Montreal or Ottawa Win Round One of the 2014/15 Play Offs?
- Habs (51%, 24 Votes)
- Sens (49%, 23 Votes)
Total Voters: 47