May 2, 2013, 10:32 AM EDT
1. Can Carey Price pull it together?
Price got off to a fantastic start this season, but has been on the decline ever since. Among goaltenders that got at least eight starts in April, only two finished with worse GAA’s than Price’s 3.49. No team can get particularly far in the playoffs without good goaltending — just ask the 2012 Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers — and Montreal isn’t above that. On the plus side, no playoff team scored fewer goals in the regular season than the Sens, and Price was strong against them in the regular season. Perhaps this series is just what he needs to bounce back.
2. What should we expect from Erik Karlsson?
Karlsson playing just two months after cutting his Achilles tendon was surprising, but the fact that he logged over 27 minutes in all three of his games since his return was miraculous. The Sens’ defenseman had four assists over that span. It’s worth noting that New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac, who suffered a similar injury, urged Karlsson not to return so soon while another player that’s been through the same thing, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Sami Salo, predicted that Karlsson would come back stronger than ever. Either way, the Senators aren’t putting any meaningful limits on his playing time and they’re a far more dangerous team now that he’s back.
3. Will Ottawa need Craig Anderson to be brilliant?
Even with the return of Karlsson, the Senators aren’t a team that can win a lot of high-scoring affairs. The Senators were an anemic 27th in the NHL when it came to goals scored per game. Still, if Anderson plays anything like he did in the regular season, that might not be an issue. He missed 18 games in the middle of the season due to a sprained ankle, but stayed strong in his return, finishing first among netminders with a 1.69 GAA and .941 save percentage. The wild card in all of this is goaltender Robin Lehner. The ideal for the Senators would be for the 21-year-old rookie to just observe this series from the bench, but Lehner has been great this season and if Anderson falters, he should be seen as a viable Plan B.
4. Montreal PP or Ottawa PK?
The Ottawa Senators are one of the most undisciplined teams in the NHL, but they could get away with that in the regular season because they also killed penalties better than any other team. When they play Montreal though, they might pay for those mistakes. The Canadiens have gone from one of the worst power-play teams in 2011-12 to the fifth best this season. Getting defenseman Andrei Markov back for a full season after battling knee problems was a huge boost. Markov and fellow Canadiens blueliner P.K. Subban have been two of the league’s most successful players with the man advantage.
5. Will the Sens actually get an advantage at home?
When the Senators hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 20, Senators coach Paul MacLean joked that his goal was to “take the crowd out of it” early, according to The Globe and Mail. The Senators have long struggled to keep fans of opposing loyalties out of their stadium for home games. Given the relative proximity of Montreal, you can bet there will be plenty of Habs fans invading Scotiabank Place to cheer passionately for the visitors.
May 28, 2015, 6:35 PM EDT
Even their first names are similar (Jordan and Jaden). Fun times ahead …
May 28, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, specifically.
May 28, 2015, 5:28 PM EDT
“The fact that Mr. Peladeau is a separatist…we know very well whether it’s the owners of the team in Toronto or the owners of the Canadiens, they’re not separatists and they don’t want Quebec to separate.”
May 28, 2015, 4:52 PM EDT
Says that “the expectation is to win right now.”
May 28, 2015, 3:48 PM EDT
Meanwhile, in the West, Corey Crawford has the edge in big-game experience over Frederik Andersen.
May 28, 2015, 3:39 PM EDT
Was set to become a UFA on July 1.
May 28, 2015, 3:26 PM EDT
Bit of a theme developing here…
May 28, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT
Pens to receive third-round pick in 2016 as compensation.
May 28, 2015, 2:21 PM EDT
After scoring 80 points in 56 games for Youngstown.
May 28, 2015, 2:08 PM EDT
Rangers goalie knows he can’t rely on history to defeat the Lightning.
May 28, 2015, 1:04 PM EDT
The former Penguins coach is still under contract to Pittsburgh.
May 28, 2015, 12:27 PM EDT
Former Preds forward, who played for Roy in junior, is currently with KHL club CSKA.
May 28, 2015, 12:22 PM EDT
Has spent the past three seasons coaching the Flyers’ AHL affiliate.
May 28, 2015, 12:05 PM EDT
Spent part of last season with the Bruins
May 28, 2015, 11:49 AM EDT
Which they lost by a score of 6-2.
May 28, 2015, 11:41 AM EDT
Which is next Wednesday.
May 28, 2015, 10:50 AM EDT
The former led Canada to gold at the most recent World Junior tourney.
May 28, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
He’s expected to be ready for the start of training camp.
May 28, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT
Both forwards are New Jersey draft picks.
May 28, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
His contract will expire after 2015-16.
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