May 2, 2013, 10:32 AM EST
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.
Dec 18, 2013, 10:43 AM EST
Boston forward avoids supplemental discipline.
Dec 18, 2013, 9:45 AM EST
GM George McPhee said it was “a great hit.”
Dec 18, 2013, 9:18 AM EST
Pittsburgh has won nine of their last 10.
Dec 18, 2013, 8:20 AM EST
That and all the links to start your day.
Dec 18, 2013, 1:21 AM EST
A relative unknown is now the hottest goalie in the NHL.
Dec 17, 2013, 11:26 PM EST
In more ways than one.
Dec 17, 2013, 11:07 PM EST
Only one point separate these teams now.
Dec 17, 2013, 10:39 PM EST
Brutal stuff for Evgeni Nabokov & Co.
Dec 17, 2013, 10:23 PM EST
Both teams’ differing streaks continue.
Dec 17, 2013, 10:03 PM EST
Florida’s entourage wins fourth in a row.
Dec 17, 2013, 9:33 PM EST
Notice a theme tonight?
Dec 17, 2013, 9:21 PM EST
His boarding hit could draw more than a minor penalty.
Dec 17, 2013, 8:47 PM EST
The Ducks star managed to return.
Dec 17, 2013, 8:00 PM EST
Dec 17, 2013, 7:09 PM EST
Mark Fraser in, Frazer McLaren out.
Dec 17, 2013, 6:32 PM EST
He was injured against Ottawa on Monday.
Dec 17, 2013, 5:47 PM EST
“It’s all about hard work, and it goes to everyone.”
Dec 17, 2013, 5:00 PM EST
“It’s all good signs. I’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
Dec 17, 2013, 3:48 PM EST
As illustrated by the picture.
Dec 17, 2013, 3:27 PM EST
All the latest from the blue paint…
- Martin Jones gets another shutout, remains undefeated 14
- Video: Tom Wilson gets tossed for charging Brayden Schenn 54
- Video: Kyle Quincey ejected for boarding Ryan Getzlaf 16
- NHL on NBCSN: Third time’s the charm for Flyers vs Capitals? 8
- Video: Penguins defeat Leafs, Bortuzzo called for illegal hit to head 71
- Potter suspended two games for boarding Bonino 3
- Reports: Thornton will appeal 15-game suspension 107
- Lucic addresses fight video, says he’s ‘disgusted and outraged’ by Vancouver 101
- Pittsburgh’s special teams have been pretty good; Florida’s not so much 3
- Flyers blow 4-1 lead, Caps win in shootout 25
- Updated: NHL suspends Thornton 15 games for Orpik attack (155)
- Janssen: Orpik should’ve fought Thornton, then ‘everything would have quieted down’ (123)
- Bylsma: Neal needs to learn from Marchand hit (114)
- Reports: Thornton will appeal 15-game suspension (107)
- Lucic addresses fight video, says he’s ‘disgusted and outraged’ by Vancouver (101)